You know, it sucks to write a few paragraphs, look it over, and decide you sound like a whiny baby. Anyone reading that and of course, not knowing who I am, would think that something terrible had happened to me to prevent me from living a full life. And that’s just not the case. If my family were to read what I published yesterday, they would be hurt or disappointed. And that is precisely why I am writing anonymously now.
Maybe realizing the depth of my ingratitude is part of the reason I felt drawn to do this blog. Writing freely and letting out all the words that have backed up inside of me for months might be the thing I need to kick my ass into gear and adjust my attitude into something workable.
You see, here’s the thing I was bitching about yesterday: I’m not going to be famous, guys. I’m not going to write that big bestseller that gets my name known around the planet. I’m not going to be a highly desired public speaker making $100k per appearance. I’m not going to be a household name fashion designer. And that’s it. That’s what’s got my knickers dusted. That’s the extent of it.
Honestly, I feel like kicking my own ass.
Can I tell you something about me? There’s something wrong with me. When I was in my mid-20’s, I signed up at the International Academy of Merchandising and Design. I put my two little girls in daycare. My mother-in-law was paying for that, basically, because I was supposed to clean her house each week but she’d leave me the cash in a dresser drawer where I could get it myself, and it seems each week the quality of my cleaning efforts went down a smidge. So yeah, basically I was not earning the money, she was just giving it to me. I don’t know why she kept on doing that. Maybe she just couldn’t confront me to change things.
Anyway, I put my toddler and my preschooler into daycare fulltime and signed my ass up at the Academy. I wish I could see that place just one more time. It was a beautiful thing. There were spacious workrooms full of natural light. Cutting tables at just the right height so you didn’t have to lean over too much and put a crick in your back, like the dining room table. Actually, I did a lot of my cutting on the living room floor back then. I was agile enough to make it easy. These days, hauling my ass up from ground level is not quite as pleasant an activity.
The cutting tables were lined up perfectly in the center of the room, and all around the perimeter were various types and sizes of Wolff dress forms. By sizes, I mean size 8 womens, a child’s size, and forms that you could use to drape men’s fashion. I didn’t mean different sizes of women. Because in the fashion industry back then, there was only one size: size 8. Yes, you could go into a ready to wear store and buy anything up to a 14, but everything was designed and draped and drafted to a size 8. Which is funny, because the idea of a model these days being a size 8 is ridiculous. I don’t know what size they design to now. It’s been 35 years. But when I look at those skinny bitches, I’m thinking size zero. There wasn’t even such a thing as size zero back in those days.
I was a size 8 in those days. Cigarettes kept me svelte. I know that now, since I quit smoking 24 years ago and I have not been able to keep my weight down all those years. I used to be smug about my ability to stay thin. I was proud of my body and I used it to generate certain reactions from men. I remember once about a year before I divorced my first husband, who was an abusive alcoholic, whose mother paid me each week to “clean” her house, I put on a lime green mini skirt and strode into Mr. Wright’s office at Tampa College. I was too old to be in college. I was 26. But I had to do something to learn how to support myself because I was going to be leaving that mother fucker of a husband soon. I was done. Anyway, I walked right into that office with my tanned, muscled legs and my small waist and my blonde hair and I stood right in front of him as he sat at his desk and I looked right at him and he looked at me and I could see that he was trying not to look me up and down and yeah, he was getting a little hot under the collar of that button down shirt. I asked him some vapid question about some accounting class I was taking that he taught, but the question didn’t matter. I was there for the reaction. I fed off that reaction from many different men over the years. I don’t remember exactly when men stopped looking at me. But I remember feeling confused and sad. It just made me eat even more.
But I digress. I was telling you about why I am a whiny baby.
Yes, so design school was a blast. Every aspect of the clothing design was addressed there. I got to paint models with watercolor, draw with charcoal and ink, test fabrics by burning them, draft and drape patterns, sew garments on commercial machines, and just fucking everything. It was like a dream. I didn’t care that I was racking up thousands of dollars in student loans. I was eating that shit up. The final exam each year was to design a line of clothing, get the drawings approved, and then draft and construct them for a big fashion show with real models and press coverage. That first year my designs were so good. One of my pieces was a full length black wool cape covered in sequins. Each sequin had been meticulously hand-sewn one at a time. I strung up a line in my living room and hung the cape over it, and stood there sewing the sequins on while One Life To Live played on the television and my little girls were at daycare.
The cape was the finale of the entire fashion show. I was happy about that but I also kind of expected it. I had this idea that I was really great and I just deserved the accolades and the honor. I was right where I was supposed to be. I started dreaming about firing up the design industry in the Southeastern US. Which was a pipe dream because 30 years ago there was no way anybody in the southeast was going to pay for a “homemade” dress when they could get a real one from Maas Brothers. There was no awareness of the value of a designer sitting in their studio hand sewing your garment. That was worth less to the average citizen than an ill-fitting ready to wear. Backwards.
It was a two year program and I made it all the way to the last quarter before I dropped out with a 3.8 GPA. Dropped out. I didn’t even really do that, I just left, and that last quarter I earned F’s straight down the list. And do you want to know why? Because they rejected all my designs and told me to go back and make new ones. Not one of my designs was approved by the committee. And that was just beyond the pale. How dare they treat an up and coming star like that? Didn’t they remember that just last year as a new student I’d wowed everyone with my line? Stupid fucks. I was out of there.
Make of that what you will.