Last Day at the Theatre

Last week was my final day at the theatre where I have worked as the Assistant Stage Manager for the past two years. Act II Playhouse in Ambler, PA has been more than just a place that I went to work- it was like my home. I sure spent enough hours there! (They have the most comfortable couch I have ever slept on!)

I came in to meet up with my boss and sign the mural for our last show; Man of LaMancha. The cast and crew of each production create a picture for the walls backstage as a little memorial for the production.

The La Mancha Wall art: "The Highway to Glory/ The Road to El Taboso"

The La Mancha Wall art: “The Highway to Glory/ The Road to El Taboso”

Everything in theatre is so ephemeral and fleeting that it is nice to have a lasting memory physically there.

At my first (and last!) staff meeting I’ve ever attended yesterday they had cake and cards and I was very suprised!

"Liz, Thanks for Being Awesome, We Will Miss You! <3 the Act II Family"

“Liz, Thanks for Being Awesome, We Will Miss You! ❤ the Act II Family"

The cake was an amazing fruit covered one, and reminded me of some of my very favorite tarts and such that I would salivate over in Paris. I was surrounded by some of the most generous and wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure to work with, and I will really miss every day of work at the theatre. Hopefully after a few years my husband and I will have saved up enough money to return to the Philly area, so this is not a goodbye, just a 'see you later'.

And please, if you have a second, jump on over to Act II’s Website, or their blog here on WordPress!. Check out a show if you are near Philly, or send a donation to support the arts! The easiest way to give is with Amazon Smile! I do this myself and it is super easy. If you buy things online just start at Amazon Smile and choose Act II Playhouse as the nonprofit you would like to support. A percentage of your purchases goes directly to the theatre! Now how easy is that?

This company does such amazing work with a limited budget; they know how to bring together great professionals with such vision that create works of art that stay with you long after you have left your seat. Thanks to everyone who has made my time there so memorable and wonderful!

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Packing Part One

We are at about a three weeks away from moving out of our apartment before the big move! A week ago the front door only opened part way and there were boxes and luggage and Rubbermaid totes piled up everywhere. Thankfully our realtor had to give notice before any showings so that we can straighten up and make the space presentable.

After gleaning as much information as I could about packing from blogs and the information the school district sent us, I felt confident to begin the process of dividing up all our belongings. It feels strange to be having conversations about what furniture to get rid of, when just about a month ago I had been scouring thrift shops and the internet for specific pieces that would complete certain rooms. I never did find a hutch I liked for all my yarn… it’s probably for the best though.

I have packed up most of our winter clothes in space saver vacuum bags and put them into totes. At first we bought the wrong kind; I wanted to be thrifty so we went with cheap ones. We were promptly told that they would shatter and break during the trip to Alaska, so I returned those and bit the bullet buying the more expensive, but much more durable Rubbermaid Roughneck totes. I’m quickly learning that there is no cheap way to move all of your possessions 4,000 miles. I can only be thankful that it is just the two of us! Here is what I started out with:

(Wrong) Totes, Ziplock Space Saver Bags, Fabric Softener Sheets

(Wrong) Totes, Ziplock Space Saver Bags, Fabric Softener Sheets

Remember that these totes are not the ones I ended up actually using. I then washed and laid out all of our winter clothes, blankets, sheets, coats, and other items that I knew for sure we wouldn’t be wearing until it started to get cold. Our totes can take up to 4 weeks to get to our new apartment, so I didn’t want to ship anything I might want. I left out a few sweatshirts for myself, because I will want them when flying, and I tend to get cold.

 

Here is a look at all of our clothes and sheets, etc that I planned on fitting into two 27 gallon totes:

Our Winter Clothing laid out- BEFORE Space Bags

Our Winter Clothing laid out- BEFORE Space Bags

…and then I packed everything into the space bags layering fabric softener sheets inside to help stop anything from smelling of plastic or anything else. The clothes condensed down to this:

AFTER Space Bags- It cut the volume in nearly a third!

AFTER Space Bags- It cut the volume in nearly a third!

It was an amazing transformation! I was so excited to see all of the space I had saved. We had to undo a couple of the larger bags and reshape them before vacuuming the air out so that they would fit in the tote, but it was so worth it in the end. When they have no air in them, they are anything but malleable, so it took a couple tries, but between my husband and I, we figured out how to guide the shape as we vacuumed out the air.

Uhaul Dishsaver Kit. Box, and inserts.

Uhaul Dishsaver Kit. Box, and inserts.

Dishes being protected in their sleeves.

Dishes being protected in their sleeves.

I also decided to err on the side of safety with our dishes. I’m only packing half of them anyway. We received service for 8 for our wedding, but really I don’t plan on entertaining much in Alaska. And since I will be hand-washing (my kingdom for a dishwasher!) the fewer dishes, the better.

I also used dish towels as packing support instead of more disposable options like packing peanuts. I didn’t want to use any sort of non disposable or non useful packing materials, but in the end I caved just for the Uhaul dish kit. We will see if it was worth it when they arrive in Napaskiak. I keep hearing warnings that all of our boxes need to be really packed well because the journey is really rough on them and people will just throw our stuff around. I hope that isn’t true, but I am going to take all the precautions I can in the meantime. In the end, it is just stuff, and can always be replaced.

After everything was in the totes, we were told that to secure the tops, we should drill holes and put in zip ties so that the lids would stay in place. Thankfully, the 27 gallon totes look like they are all set for shipping, because they already have holes along the lid and top of the tote, so we didn’t have to drill any! I used some really cool colored zip ties I found at Lowes and marked the color on my running inventory packing list so that I will quickly know what tote contains what when we are unpacking. I love lists, and would recommend it to anyone moving a great distance, especially if you have to ship your stuff. There is no way that a month from now I am going to remember what box I packed the can opener in. I also lettered and/or numbered each box/tote. Overkill maybe, but I have the time to be organized!

The growing stack of boxes in the dining room!

The growing stack of boxes in the dining room!

Address labels were applied (Everything is being shipped out to the school specifically- we will get a PO box of our own after we arrive) and I piled the totes near the dining room table. It was a little too early in the game to actually ship anything just yet, but it is always good to get a head start!

So… what will YOU be doing?

Question Marks

The thing I am hearing the most right now (after Congratulations!) is the awkward question… ‘Sooooo…. what will YOU be doing?’. I am not the one with the teaching degree, and I don’t want to be a teacher, so pursuing that career choice is out. And when that decision has been made, there really isn’t anything left for me to do. The town of approximately 400 people that we are moving to has no other job opportunities. The people there live a subsistence lifestyle, there is no where to go out to eat, and no real businesses aside from the health clinic, post office and small town store. I struggled at first (and who am I kidding- even now) with the answer to this question. I had already signed on for next season as the Assistant Stage Manager with the theatre I work at and would be getting my Equity card by the end of next season which was a huge step for me in my career. Now that is all changing. The super independent feminist side of me is freaking out a little bit, and I’m not going to lie; I totally cried when I wrote my resignation letter to the theatre. I have just under a week left on what is now my last show with them. After two years I had become extremely comfortable working with amazing people doing some really great theatre.

As a modern independent and strong woman I have been fed by the media, and my teachers and professors, people I trust and look up to that I need to work to earn my worth. My career should define my success, and I should be able to balance a family with that as well. A few weeks back however I read a really enlightening article by Zosia Mamet that a friend shared on facebook. She talks about how

“We are so obsessed with “making it” these days we’ve lost sight of what it means to be successful on our own terms. As women we have internalized the idea that every morning we wake up, we have to go for the f–king gold. You can’t just jog; you have to run a triathlon. Having a cup of coffee, reading the paper, and heading to work isn’t enough—that’s settling, that’s giving in, that’s letting them win. You have to wake up, have a cup of coffee, conquer France, bake a perfect cake, take a boxing class, and figure out how you are going to get that corner office or become district supervisor, while also looking damn sexy—but not too sexy, because cleavage is degrading—all before lunchtime. Who in her right mind would want to do that? And who would even be able to?”

This article actually brought me to tears. She goes on to say that we need to define our own version of success, and that if that means going off and having a bakery in the middle of nowhere instead of being a super ‘successful’ actress on tv, (or having any job at all really) we need to stop pressuring ourselves- and others- to fit into this mold of what society and feminism says is successful. This resonated with me and this decision to move to Alaska. I am NOT a failure for quitting my job and supporting my husband and going to run a household.

So I guess my clear answer is this: I will be taking a break from Stage Management and working in the traditional sense. I plan on doing all of the creative projects that have been on the back burner because “I don’t have time”. Crochet, Writing, Reading Plays, Translating Plays. Maybe this is my blessing in all of this. I’m not saying that I won’t go stir crazy and accept a job touring or in a town that will pay to get me there, but at least for the beginning I am going to have a lot of free time.

One factor that made this decision a whole lot easier: Money. I know, you aren’t supposed to talk about it, but it sure seems to factor into EVERYTHING.

If my job in the theatre could provide enough for us to stay we would. But it doesn’t, and never will. I read an article from another Philadelphia theatre artist having some of the same revelations. Charlotte Ford is a successful local actress/theatre creator, and what she wrote really resonated with me, and actually made it much easier to support my husband in this endeavor. You can read her story here.

I knew that when I got married, that once my husband found a full time teaching job it would trump any income I was contributing. This past year we worked 6 jobs between the two of us (stage management counting as one) and we still made less than what he will be making in one year as a teacher in Alaska. And that doesn’t even factor in 100% covered health benefits and the fact that they subsidize our housing. It’s not like we were broke all the time- in fact we were doing well, with a comfortable 2 bed apartment in the suburbs, nice things and not having to worry every second about the balance of our bank account. But in the end we were both consistently working 60+ hour weeks, with days off few and far between.

It’s interesting that I’m really excited about having a break, and taking a couple years or so to really build a sustainable base for a family. Had you asked me a couple of years ago if I would do something like this I would have thought you were crazy. My career and theatre were the most important things, and I was okay living out of a suitcase and giving up everything for my “success”. Now that is much less appealing. I got married. I want a family. I want a home. It’s not wrong to want these things, and know that theatre has to take a backseat for a while to achieve that. This does not make me any less of a feminist, or a success.

Celebration!

celebration 2Celebration!

Nathan got the Job!

We celebrated last night with Champagne! Nathan has officially accepted a position as an English Teacher at a rural Alaskan school in Napaskiak. Before the whirlwind of planning and moving our entire lives 4,000 miles from our Philly suburban home, I decided that we needed to properly celebrate with champagne of course! It is a little ironic perhaps, that this is a staple for me when it comes to celebration, as the town we will be moving to is completely dry. Even having alcohol in our home there would be enough to send us to jail, or a big fine, so I have been informed. But for now- we drink to success!

I hope to document our travels and adventures here for friends and family- and someday for myself and my children. My father and grandmother both insisted that I keep a log. They are pretty smart people, so I am listening 🙂

More will be posted as we go, so stay tuned!