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Author’s Note: What follows is the first of three parts attempting to explain the devotion of my life for the past forever. Think of it as three fifths apology for abandoning this sacred space, two fifths cathartic vomit of emotions. To some of you, this will be news, and I hope that you find it vaguely interesting enough to keep coming back now that I’m allowed to have hobbies again. To others, this is something that you were aware of, but maybe only as far as the results, and I hope that you enjoy reading about what it took to achieve them. And to others, you’ve not only heard me talk about this experience incessantly, but I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this entire tale, in these exact words, multiple times. To those of you, I don’t expect you to read it again, so go find something else to do. Hop on over to The Oatmeal, his shit’s always funny. Have you read his bit about how to use a semicolon? Fucking hilarious. Anyway, to all of you who choose to venture forward with me, thank you for your eyeball movement. I hope I do you all justice.

 

Last January, I told you about a journey that I was on.

No, journey isn’t quite right. “Journey” sounds like a long walk, something with a simple beginning, a pleasant middle, a welcome end. Like the second book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, just a lot of walking. No, what I did was more than a journey. It was an epic battle, where I faced my own personal Balrog. At times, it seemed like I was never going to be done with this insane odyssey, that I was going to collapse from exhaustion, that my goals were going remain just beyond my desperate grasp. But I wanted it so badly — SO badly — that I fought on. And now, here I am, and it’s over.

Let me back up.

My goal was simple: I wanted to pass my ETCP test. What’s the ETCP test, you ask? Excellent question, you.

ETCP stands for Entertainment Technician Certification Program. It’s meant to be a certification program for all the guys in the industry who graduated from The School of Hard Knocks. The ones who never went to college, just started working, and after 20 or 30 years in the industry have a vast wealth of knowledge. The ones who know a hell of a lot more and have infinitely more skill sets than a little 22 year old shit fresh out of undergrad, but don’t have the piece of paper that says so. The ETCP is meant to be that piece of paper.

The test focuses primarily on all the parts of the job that can potentially kill a person: how to work with big electrical power, transformers, generators, safety procedure, and the like. All things with which I had very little experience. See, the beginnings of my career in the entertainment production industry isn’t so very different from the old dogs for whom the test was originally intended. I didn’t go to college to be an electrician. I majored in Theatre, sure, but with the intention of becoming a professional dancer. I just happened into the field when I realized that people were way more appreciative of my volunteer time hanging lights than they ever were for my work dancing under them. I never received any training or schooling for what I do, I learned as I went. (To be fair, even if I had majored in lighting in college, the large majority of the knowledge covered on the test wasn’t taught at my college either, so it’s not like my major set me all that far back.) I figured things out as I encountered them, I asked a lot of questions, and I failed a lot. And that route has gotten me to a pretty great place. But the problem with learning things as you experience them is that  you can only learn about things that you experience, and there were a lot of skills that I was never going to acquire simply because I was never going to experience them in my current job.  So the only way I was going to gain these skills was to teach myself, and the test was a perfect measure of my success.

And so, the ETCP came to represent two meanings to me. For one, it was proof that I’d learned what I needed to in order to fill the gap in my knowledge. But it was so much more than that. Even though a degree in technical theatre would have done little more to prepare me for my chosen career, I’ve always secretly been ashamed of my origin story. I always felt like I had to work harder because I felt like I had something to prove. I never felt like I was good enough. But the ETCP, I felt, would be the ultimate validation. It would finally prove, if only to myself, that not having a tech theatre degree doesn’t hold me back, and would be the perfect stepping stone for the next phase of my career.

Now all I had to do was teach myself what I didn’t know.

Which, as it turns out, was more than one would have guessed. Sure, I knew a ton about what to do to light a show, but I’d never learned the why. Face it, when you’ve got 4 hours to load in a rock show you don’t give two flying fucks why the electricity is flowing and how it results in controllable light, just that it does so without catching anything on fire. When I began my learning journey, I didn’t know the difference between a watt, a volt, and an amp. I knew that you talk in watts when you’re talking about the size of a lamp, volts when you’re talking about what comes out of the walls, and amps when you’re talking about breakers, but I didn’t know why. I knew that watts equals volts times amps, but I didn’t know why, or how those three things relate. These are the very building blocks of electrical theory, and the fact that I got my job without knowing any of them is kinda fucked up. (Though, as I have come to realize, not at all uncommon. Let’s just say I wasn’t the only one working in the industry with a serious gap in knowledge.)

I had a long way to go.

Studying

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Sorry I’ve Been Gone, Here’s a Picture of My Cat

I’ve been gone. I know.

There’s a reason. A very good reason, as a matter of fact. One that I’m working on writing about so that I may share it with all you good people who don’t think that I’m dead.

But it’s a difficult thing to write about. Partially because it is a long story that encompassed most of my life for a period of time. Partially because it’s full of complicated feelings and complex emotions. But also because I’m out of fucking practice in the blogging game, and I need to remember how to string two goddamn words together. Writing’s hard, yo.

So it’s coming, but not yet. In the mean time, here’s some pictures of my cats, since my husband informed me today that the internet consists of nothing but cat pictures anyway.

Enjoy.

Mila Likes Baskets

Mila in the Kitty Condo

 

(And for the last time, no, I’m not fucking pregnant.)

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Why I’m Cheating on Victoria With Frederick

Author’s Note: 

No compensation, in the form of either money or product, has been received by the author from either of the companies about to be discussed. No one ever offers to pay me to write about their shit, except that one sex toy company, who I had to turn down for reasons entirely unrelated to the fact that they’re a sex toy company. Anyhoo, what I’m trying to get at is that the opinions about to be shared are entirely my own, and in no way influenced by anything outside of my personal life experiences. Also, if you’re the type of person who would be uncomfortable with a discussion about my boobs, you should probably come back another time. Shit might get weird for you.

I’m cheating on Victoria’s Secret.

I know, I never thought we’d end up this way either, each halfheartedly trying to pretend that everything is still the same as it’s always been. But we both know. We can act all we like that it’s not happening, go through the motions as we always have, but we both know. Even if we can’t say it aloud.

But it’s pretty much over between us.

I can still remember what it felt like when I first fell in love. We’d been acquaintances since high school, when I about died of embarrassment from having to go in with my mom to find a florescent yellow bra to wear in a dance show. (No, I wasn’t dancing in just a florescent yellow bra in high school. We all wore black tanks and each had different neon-colored bra straps. Don’t make this weird.) There were a few other times, I’m sure, but nothing with any meaning. I was still involved in a sweet, naive romance with the lingerie departments in Target and Walmart. I think back on those cheap, brightly colored bras, their underwire poking through after only two washes, and can’t help but laugh at the way I used to go through them like Kleenex. (Which is about how durable they were.)

It was actually my now-husband who hooked us up. During college.

It was a birthday present. He took me to a Victoria’s Secret and told me to pick out some bras. (At the time, I thought it was just an incredibly sweet gift, though, looking back with the knowledge of his unwavering obsession with my rack, I can’t help but notice some of his own motives in the gesture.) As I crossed the threshold of the store, I walked smack into a display for their newest bra, which happened to be premiering that very day. They were called Biofits, and the moment I hiked those should straps up in the fitting room I was completely and passionately in love. It was so fucking perfect. It did nice things for the girls, nicer than any of my bargain-bin finds, but it was also ridiculously comfortable. It framed the girls beautifully in a low-cut top, but it didn’t hike them up so far as to be inappropriate for work. It was the best of all worlds. From the moment I tried on that first Biofit, I wore nothing else. I washed and wore my Biofits until they fell apart or the underwire poked out. Twice a year, during the semi-annual sale, I went to ridiculous lengths to replace them, dumping out bins so that I could dig all the way to the bottom and pestering sales girls until I had cleaned the store of every Biofit in a 34D. But it was all worth it, because I was madly in love with those bras.

Nothing could come between me and my Biofits. We were made for each other.

Until the day my love betrayed me. Victoria’s Secret discontinued the Biofit.

When the sales girl told me, I thought it was a cruel joke. Like she was yanking me. “What?” I asked, staring at her stupidly. “Why?” She shook her head sadly. “I don’t know why, they’re our most popular bra. But they are, they’re discontinuing them.” I couldn’t believe it, didn’t want to believe it. But like it or not, it was true. It was okay, I told myself. That just meant that I needed to start over, rediscover the Victoria’s Secret bra, and our relationship would be right back on track like nothing had changed.

Except that it had.

Bra after bra was tossed over that dressing room door, all to be discarded in frustration on the floor. Nothing was right. This one didn’t have enough support, that one’s straps were too wide, the other one squished them together too much. They all felt wrong. Finally, I grudgingly settled on an uninteresting cotton number. It looked okay, perfectly comfortable for work and much cheaper than its predecessor. (My one gripe with the Biofit had always been their $50 price tag. Which is why I usually only had 2 or 3 bras to my name at any given time.) It didn’t do anything magical to my rack, but even in a shit bra I can produce some pretty impressive cleavage, so I went with it.

But the magic was gone.

We went on like that for about a year, the Victoria’s Secret bra acting as my staple over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder and me pretending that I was happy but secretly (and bitterly) wishing that I had my Biofits back. And then, one day, I met someone new. It was last summer, and I was scouring Victoria’s Secret for a strapless bra that was comfortable, supportive, and fit inside the lowest-cut sundress I owned before my best friend’s wedding. And it was not going well. I couldn’t find what I was looking for. All the bras in our local Victoria’s Secret were too big, refusing to stay hidden. To make matters worse, the sales girl kept trying to bring me bras in another size because her stupid fucking measuring tape that I didn’t fucking want to be measured with anyway said that I was a different fucking size than the fucking size I’d been for the last three fucking years. Seeing that I was mere seconds from stomping on her perky little face, Kyle dragged me out of the store and suggested that we check out the bigger store one town over. I agreed, made one last attempt to set the salesgirl on fire with my eyes, and we headed to Albany.

Arriving at the mall, Kyle stopped in front of the store two down from the Victoria’s Secret and casually suggested that we check this place first.

Frederick’s of Hollywood.

I was immediately suspect. After all, everyone knows that good girls don’t shop at Frederick’s. Strippers shop at Frederick’s, and the husbands of good girls when they want their girls to look like strippers. Good girls shop at Victoria’s Secret, coyly giggle behind their hands as if they’re doing something naughty, but really buying the same modest underpants as everyone else. So I had to assume that the only reason Kyle was suggesting that we go into a Frederick’s was because he wanted to see me dress like a stripper. And yet, I was so desperate to be done with the whole search that I followed him in, weaving between racks of corsets and teddies, and asked the sales woman about strapless bras.

What followed changed my boobs forever.

I found the most perfect bra ever. How perfect, you ask? So perfect that when I walked out of the fitting room, Kyle’s mouth literally fell open. “Holy shit!” he yelled. (Yelled! Scared the shit outta the saleswoman.) “Buy two! Fuck that, do they come in a six pack?” These bras are fucking magic. Sure, they have enough padding that in an emergency they can be used as a flotation device. But motherfucker, do they make my tits look great! Kyle cannot keep his hands off me when I wear a Frederick’s bra. Oh, and added benefit? They cost half the price of a Biofit, the same as one of my lame-o cotton bras, without being on sale. And sprinkles on top, the saleswoman was helpful, but not pushy. She didn’t come at me brandishing a fucking tape measure, and she didn’t use it on me even though I told her four fucking times that I already knew what fucking size I was. She suggested a bra, complimented me on the fit when I came out, and then backed the fuck off. I felt like I’d died and gone to boob-support heaven.

And that’s where we are today.

I still go to Victoria’s Secret twice a year. I buy a couple of the cotton bras, because while Kyle certainly enjoys my boobs in a Frederick’s bra, I don’t need them to be quite so lucious for work. And I still buy underpants from them, because they do sell a very practical, serviceable cotton underpant with sassy phrases across the ass. But when I’m dressing for a night out, when I’m pulling out the red lipstick and setting all my guns to ‘phase’, I don’t turn to Victoria. I strap on Frederick, because he does something magical to me. He makes my tits feel two sizes larger, my waist two sizes smaller, and my  whole self seven sizes sexier.

Good girls don’t shop at Frederick’s of Hollywood. And I’m okay with that.

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I’m Throwing Up Excitement

When I think about all the things that 2014 can hold, I want to throw up.

It’s like the potential is quivering in my stomach, threatening the explode out of my throat and all over the carpet. So much lies ahead of me, so many opportunities, so many chances, so many doors.

There’s something big coming. Something that has the potential to change my whole life.

This isn’t just some little gleam in my eye, something I came up with when drunk because I’m bored with my life. This is no, “Hey, I want to dye my hair crazy-ass colors!” or “I’m going to run a half marathon!” This is something that I want so badly that it makes my chest hurt to think about it. It’s all I’ve been able to think about for the better part of a year, my obsession. (Let’s face facts, it’s entirely responsible for my abandonment of this sacred space.) Sometimes it seems too much, too huge, too impossible; I may or may not have cried more than once during this journey. But the desire has permeated my being so thoroughly that there seems to other option but to achieve this goal, so I slog on.  This isn’t something that I would like, that I would dig, that would be neat; this is something that I must do. I imagine over and over how good it will feel when it’s over, the ecstasy of finally achieving my dream; I haven’t bothered to imagine what will happen if I can’t do it, because that’s not something that I can emotionally handle right now. It won’t be easy, but it’s something I will do.

It’s also something that I’m too afraid to tell you about.

I’m afraid that if I shout it from the rooftops, that if I sing the glories of my epic journey, and then it doesn’t happen…well, just the fact that my dream died will be devastating enough without having to admit to the world that I failed. Not that I think that it’s going to happen. I’m going to achieve this dream. (I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.) But this is too sacred, too important, too deep in my heart for me to play with.

But I promise, as soon as this goal is mine, I will share every moment, as well as the changes that will inevitably result from it. Trust me, I’ll be so fucking ecstatic that they’ll be hearing about it in space.

Until then, here’s to the new year. Let’s grab 2014 together and shake it by the balls.

Steph-NYE

(And no, I’m not fucking pregnant.)

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