Huntress of the Lens


Wednesday, September 2, 2009


My 16 year old daughter, who is already finished with high school and taking a college class spent the evening teaching me skills that she has and I don't last night. She's taking Stagecraft, which she thought was going to be more about makeup for the stage than costuming, but it turns out that what they do is sew for four hours two days a week. She just got her first sewing machine for her birthday this year and I tried to find her a sewing class, but there was really nothing great, and then she chose this class because she wants to go to cosmetology school to learn hair and makeup.

There are only 7 people in a 4 hour class, and the teacher is very relaxed, so based on the needs of  the drama department she can do just about whatever she pleases. Yesterday she made a pair of lined women's pants, size 22, with an elastic waist and a zipper. Blue fabric with white polka dots. Other students are making vests with white fabric and blue polka dots for an  upcoming clown show, and her pair of pants originated from the question "How do I make something with a zipper in it?" The teacher added a zipper to that garment and Molly made it, in her second, or is it third week of class? She is starting to handle a sewing machine like she's been doing it all her life.

We picked fabric for curtains for our living room, and together we got one panel done last night. I was the apprentice and did the cutting and ironing, and she told me what to do and showed me how to sew a curtain. All day I just wanted to do my own art, and the first half was putting away boxes and boxes of my 25 years of supplies and the second half was having a sewing evening with my daughter. So much better than my own plans would have been. To see her confident and competent and let her teach me was an experience that does not echo my own teen years with my mother.

Speaking of parents, my Dad reads my blog every morning and it turns out that he prints them all, for what purpose I don't know. Maybe they're making the Rotary Club circuit in Mission Viejo or maybe they go into a box. He said that he and Carol were making their wills and what things of his do I want when he dies. 

I dropped that paragraph in there, in the midst of something completely different, to give you an idea of what it was like to hear that. Out of the blue I have to not only consider my hero, my first true love dying, but try to remember what stuff he has and call dibs on it. Mostly I don't ever want him to die, he's the touch stone, the olly-olly-oxen-free that means I've found my way safely home to base. He's the man I've measured every other man against, and then accepted their shortcomings because we all know there's only one Clark Kent. What do I want when he dies? What a practical question, what a heart-slayer of a thought. 

I don't even know what he's got, stuff-wise that would mean anything if he weren't here to talk about it with. He's already given me the book of love poems his father wrote while courting my Grandmother all those years ago. When my Grandmother died his sister swooped in and took anything good that I would have loved to have of hers, and it was her mother after all, she had a right to do that. The blue glass vases, the jewelry, costume or not, the artwork. My father's side of the family are not savers, anything of value they have is given in person and is not tangible anyway. I suppose I would like to have anything he ever crafted out of wood, he's a brilliant woodworker. I've given him many framed pieces of my own art over the years, those would be nice to have back since they were drawn just for him. But really, how can I even answer that question without falling apart?

I took a nap yesterday, and cried myself to sleep thinking about this. I told each of my kids about that question and cried when I told them. I'm crying as I type right now. I only have one parent and I need him more than some "small sack of stuff." 

Now Molly has never had a problem with this, she's been asking me about my own stuff for her whole life. "Mom, can I have this when you die?" and it's stuff like my Grandmother's butter dish, or the matching yellow cream and sugar set on it's own little tray. She wants all my jewelry, basically she wants every cool thing I've ever had. I tell her that I have to leave something for her brothers, and I think we've settled on the two perfectly round rocks that I've had for years. They each get one. I'm sure they'll be happy. She wants the dresser my dad made me, and all of my wooden boxes. All of the polished heart-shaped stones, and my tattoo business. She could run it, she could hire an artist and know if she was getting someone who knew their business, and run the whole place, I suppose she should get it. I can think about myself dying, that causes me no distress at all. Ideally I would die at the same moment as Michael so neither of us went first, but otherwise I'm ok with it. Thinking about my Dad or Carol though, well, in my current emotional state it was just too much. It was that kind of non sequitur.

In yesterday's blog I said I can cry at the drop of a hat. He asked me that question and I burst into tears and said "Dad, you just dropped your hat." I managed to get through the conversation, then told him I never want to talk about it again. He said he tried to work it into the conversation casually, and I told him that if he's looking for another career in retirement then the casual working in of emotionally devastating ideas should not be it. 

So Molly and I spent a whole evening together, till long after midnight working on a project where she was the teacher and I was the student. She's a fantastic designer, her ideas for color and form are just a natural part of who she is, and we worked without a pattern. She's only 16, I would rather see her spend these next couple of years taking classes out at the college and just loving school before she jumps into the 8 hour a day grind that cosmetology school is. I would like to see her have some fun, pick up some additional skills that she will want and need later in life, and fall in love with drama and the stage in general. She may want to be a hair and makeup stylist, but there is more to the art of beauty and illusion than just hair and makeup. I want to know that by the time she's my age she'll have so many supplies for so many arts that it will also take her days to get them all arranged in a studio to have them at hand for her projects. Molly is Drag. Molly is Mardi Gras. Molly is her own parade. We have things to teach each other and last night it was her turn. My daughter is feather fans and strings of pearls and jewels worn on the face and forehead. She's scarves and large false eyelashes and custom couture. She's not going to learn all of that in beauty school, and once she passes the state board and starts an internship with a renowned stylist it's going to be nothing but cut and color for years before she has the chance to learn these other things again.

Why can't we plan our kids' lives the way we know is best for them? Why can't we convince our parents that they simply must never die? Why can't I find my box of acrylic paints when I know I had it so recently? These mysteries are driving me crazy, and some of them make me cry.


  1. Crap. my whole comment got deleted!

    Basically it said if you ever want to send Molly to NY to practice some coture costuming, feel free to send her over for the Mermaid Parade. She can totally crash with me. Mermaid parade is NYs version of Mardi Gras, and growing up with a family from New Orleans, I take my costuming VERY seriously. Its a different ball game when you get to see YOUR ideas come to life, rather than focusing on construction. That is when the love affair begins. Give it time, Ms. Molly is only 16.. the fact she is getting into cosmotology is amazing. At 16 I was smoking weed behind the Juvinile detention center. :D Also she should check out this girls blog
    She is an amazing makeup artist who is also an amazing clothing designer. Her name is Xena. She is from Brooklyn. Molly might really dig some of her makeup tutorials.

  2. Thanks Jess, I have a feeling she's going to want to do that one year soon, New York is somewhere she really wants to go! and mermaids are so totally her thing!!


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