Monday, March 14, 2016

The Next Frontier

It's been spring cleaning time in our lives, and we're shuffling off the old garments and acts that we don't need. We're also going through our fabric stock as I work on the next big thing.

I tend to buy at least one yard more fabric than I need when I build a new costume for myself. I like to have enough in case I screw up.

My next new act is going to be built from leftover fabric of acts past. The rigging will probably be complicated with this act, but I have lessons of many years to help me on my quest.

Pez Photograpy 2011
One of the layers will be built from the apricot fabric I used on the gown for my mega costume. The gown is on the floor in this photo.

The lining will be made from the peach fabric that covers my bra and comprises my panties and garter belt.

I learned so many lessons making this costume. I would rebuild it completely, but the current version is fine for doing the act still.

SH Photo 2015
The outer layer of the outer piece is made of the fabric on this corset. I learned many lessons while making this costume. My plan was to have different pieces light up with LEDs when I triggered them as I stripped. I did a great job rigging the LEDs myself, and I have a tiny, programmable device in the panties to make them flash.

The biggest issue I faced when I debuted the number was the stage lights. I lit the costume with pink lights because they look better with the color palette. Throw some nice stage lights on the costume and the pink LEDs are washed out. You could only see the LEDs when I stepped into darkness. White lights against this color palette might have also been a problem because there wouldn't be enough contrast between the light and fabric. I might add lights to this new costume, but I'm definitely using this fabric.
This act isn't being performed any more. This was my project that incorporated magnets. I may sell the gown, or I may hoard it. More lessons learned here.

I believe I'll use the fabric you see on the skirt yoke (and also in the gown near my feet) for the undergarments. I haven't decided if there will be a bustier, corset or bra made from the fabric yet.

I'm also using leftover embellishments and adding new ones. I've danced to the song I'm using for the new act a couple times, but it's getting its own official costume instead of being performed with pieces from a few other costumes.

I feel like I'm really creating a signature number, something people will remember. I can do classic burlesque, but people want to see me as the fun gal. This project will be the sum of me and my former parts. I'm really excited.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Broken Hearted?

I had a bit of a quandry, and I'm guilty of oversharing. Buckle up, because this is a lengthy tale of heart breaking.

I was ready to take the world by storm in January. I had pushed past some health issues and was about to start a new job. Life was amazing! I was in dance classes and working out all the time.

Photo by Markus Alias 2016
I debuted a more rehearsed version of "Yakkity Sax" at WTF-lesque on January 24th. It's an active number and I needed a new inhaler for my anaerobic asthma, and I'd suffered an asthma attack a month prior. I still bested the number and had a great time, hit the spare inhaler I got from a friend, and was ready for curtain call.

February 1st I started my new job, absolutely loving it. I went to my ballet conditioning class, arriving in plenty of time because I was working from home. Two weeks prior, I had to step out of class because I was so worked up I almost barfed up the apple I had for an afternoon snack. I didn't snack before this class, but wasn't hungry in class. As we alternated strength training with light cardio, I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. I had shortness of breath and needed my inhaler. I grabbed my second-hand inhaler and stepped into the hallway. Having studied exercise and cardio workouts, I knew that the body could be shocked by not warming up or cooling down properly. I paced in the hall as I waited for my breathing to slow up enough to hit the inhaler. It wasn't slowing as much as I would have liked, but it did seem to slow a little. I felt okay to sit down and try to catch my breath a little better. After a moment, I lifted the inhaler and primed it so I could take a fresh puff when I could hold the mist in my lungs.

I woke up on the floor with my inhaler in my hand. My mouth didn't taste like I got a successful puff. I was disoriented. How the hell did I get on the floor and how long was I there? Students who were waiting for class rushed to help and called 911. I was breathing fine at that point. I called off the ambulance and tried to get my bearings. There was so much noise and I just needed to process what happened. I had someone call Andrew because he would be pissed if he collected me at the end of class and I casually mentioned I had fainted. He's also the best person to handle me. There would be less noise if he was there. He could make the decision to take me to the emergency room based on his observations. He knows me almost as well as I know myself. I was in good spirits but missed the last part of class.

When I got in the car after the episode, I felt like I needed to just lay down, have no more motion, and not consume anything. Since my breathing was fine, we didn't hit the hospital or urgent care. I would see a doctor in the morning, and I would get some protein in my body right away. I had two chicken nuggets and some chocolate cake. I wanted comfort, so that cake was necessary.

I got up the next morning, made my early editorial conference call, and ate a bowl of sugary cereal with marshmallows. I made an appointment to see a nurse practitioner at my doctor's office. (I've seen another specialist in that office before, so I thought they'd be familiar with my history.) I had some soup and arrived for my 2:30pm visit. Yes, I was slightly anemic, but why did I faint? WTF? I got a prescription for a new inhaler and they took some blood.

February 3rd I was awakened from an afternoon nap by the nurse practitioner. She said I was diabetic and had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I couldn't process. I just woke up and the week had already been far too exciting. She set an appointment for me to come in and discuss the results the next afternoon.

I was told I was diabetic and had high blood pressure and high cholesterol and a ridiculously high platelet count and had to make some changes or I'd have to go on all kinds of medication after a fasting blood test in a month. As dramatic as the week was, I took some time to educate myself. My family has a cholesterol history, so that could be legitimate. The rest made no sense to me until I read the indications on a hormone that doctor's office had given me a few months before.  The hormone was supposed to help address some other issue, but the package said it shouldn't be given to someone with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or a family history of stroke. BOOM! My grandmother and aunt both died of stroke in their old age. My dad had a stroke at 69. Sure, they're older, but there is a history. If the package says not to prescribe to someone who has these symptoms, wouldn't that suggest it would elevate those levels to an unsafe level in some bodies?

I asked the NP if I should stop taking the hormone because of these indications and my family history. Four months on this drug and I had so many platelets that my blood clotted far too easily. Don't blood clots cause stroke? Is this thing on? Hello, nurse practitioner, are you hearing me? You don't think I should stop taking the drug? You did hear me when I said I don't eat a lot of fatty foods and I don't drink that much and I eat green leafy vegetables and drink lots of water and I bake my french fries instead of frying them?

I paid my co-pay for the eight minute consultation, got my blood test results and left. I was told no more exercise (something that's good for the heart) and no dancing (something that's good for the heart and soul) until my fasting blood test in a month. I had to make dietary changes, take my blood sugar and pressure daily. Great.

I stopped eating as much food as I did before fainting. It's been sort of a forced anorexia. I'm terrified of eating and having anything I eat kill me, so I eat half to two-thirds of what I would for a meal. Snacks are small if I have them. I've lost some weight, but I'm not gaining muscle. I recently started jogging in my living room with supervision. I also stopped taking the drug that would've elevated all of my numbers, even though the NP thought I should keep taking it.

Photo by Tim Hunter Photography 2016
I didn't cancel one single gig for this bullshit. In fact, I'm trying to get more gigs. Fuck it. I don't need
to alienate the producers who will book me by calling in with heart disease or whatever nonsense. I just had to be smart with my performances and keep Andrew abreast of my physical symptoms after each performance.

February 5th, four nights after blacking out, I did my Superman Lucy act. Andrew was backstage to help me with my costume bits, but mostly to make sure I was okay after the number.

I've performed a few more times since the incident. Some of the producers knew about the blackout, some didn't. I'm feeling better and I've changed doctors. I should have news about my fasting blood test from the new guy next week, and I see a cardiologist the following week.

Maybe I have heart disease, or maybe my body was just responding too strongly to the drug. We'll see how things change as I purge the drug from my body. Either way, I'm not dead yet. I plan on entertaining people as long as I possibly can, and then pivoting so I can continue to entertain with whatever limitations life gives me. My heart may be broken, but I refuse to be brokenhearted.