Now, I will say that it is much more satisfying to be the man that faces the storm of life and lives rather than being the man that stays on shore and merely exists. And in my most recent bout with the storm of life I found myself in the position of having to make a Matrix style trench coat out of a mix of neon pink and neon blue “urban zebra” patterned fabric for my final project in my costume tech class. Mind you that I am fucking awful at sewing and designing any sort of clothing that should ever be worn by anyone that isn’t homeless. I discovered my inability to sew during the early stages of this costume course but I was forced to repeatedly exploit my mental black hole of clothing knowledge to the point of feeling very discouraged. So for my final project, I decided to have fun with it but it ultimately blew up in my face just like everything else that I have touched with a thread and needle.
I purchased an entire bolt of neon blue fabric and my classmate Nathaniel bought the neon pink, as we planned to swap fabrics for different pieces of our matching Matrix coats. I was to be Morpheus and he would be Neo. I cut out the pattern pieces for my project a couple days earlier after I had completed the most gorgeous pink choo-choo train vest that looked as if it came from Pinocchio’s closet.
I entered the costume shop around 2:30PM on Monday and was in a fairly chipper mood. Nathaniel, Jackie, Gary, and Cristina were already in the shop working on different projects. I planned on being there until the wee hours of the night so I brought forty cups of Jell-O pudding snacks to maintain a cheerful and satiated atmosphere as well as score some brownie points with my more knowledgeable classmates that could help or perhaps be bribed into doing my project for me. I also went to Walmart and bought a can of $2.00 coffee and other supplies for the late night. The first hiccup in my chipper mood struck when I realized that I had cut out the wrong pieces in my neon blue urban zebra fabric and had cut so many pieces that I would have to go buy more fabric. I immediately drove back to Walmart and made the fashion decision to give my coat a more rural and rustic look by making it out of a John Deere pattern that was covered with pictures of tractors and combines. The action packed tractor fabric renewed my enthusiasm for making the Matrix coat.
I returned to the costume shop with my arms full of roaring tractor fabric and a face full of giggles. I proceeded to cut out my fabric pieces and this time everything went as planned and then it was time to face the sewing machine. Sewing machines fucking hate me and they are the most unreasonable machines that I have ever had to negotiate with. As I began my Matrix coat, Nathaniel was finishing his own vest; so in the act of constructing my half of the matching Matrix coats I had an early start. My sewing progress was slowed greatly by my constant need to repeatedly read through the directions that in my eyes appeared to be written in a kindergartner’s cursive. I sewed seams and removed seams until Nathaniel was completely caught up with me in his progress. It was at this point that I decided to say, “fuck the directions, I can make this shit on my own.” I placed pieces together where I saw fit and then I sewed them together and then surged them, and occasionally ironed them. Nathaniel, Jackie, Gary, Cristina, and I made funny jokes and laughed the night away until about 3:00AM, and then the room became filled with silence. All of us were miserably astonished by the fact that our projects were less than 50% completed at this point. Jackie was the first to break. She was toiling over her dress when she sewed the zipper to a boob cup and she suddenly fell to the floor in tears. Everyone tried to comfort her and tell her that she should get back into her chair and finish it, everyone except me. I was beginning to break and I wanted to witness someone else going through the same pain that I was suffering. While the others were comforting her I was throwing out comments like, “submit to your doubts”, “you are a failure at life and the sewing machine is the only one that sees it”, and “let the butthurt flow through you.” She regained her posture and the room once again took on an air of silent frustration.
It was around 4:30AM when I broke. I had made several mistakes but there was no specific mistake that caused me to breakdown; it was the simple fact that I was sewing a trench coat made from John Deere tractor material at 4:30AM on a Tuesday morning. I threw my 35% completed coat across the room and began to call tractors “niggers” and combines “spics”. At one point I called John Deere himself a “bottom-feeding faggot”. I heaved these accusations about the room with ear shattering volume as I kicked chairs and then I faded into mumblings of nonsense while trembling against a table. I drank another cup of coffee and returned to my sewing. The others kept their heads down and we pretended that nothing had happened; they knew that they themselves were teetering on the fence between sanity and psychosis brought about by the sewing machines’ refusal to work like an intelligent device by mind fucking them with broken needles and puking threads.
The project was due at 10:30AM and it was now 7 in the morning. Everyone had finished his or her projects except Gary and I. Although I was in the latter stages of sewing on the buttons, I was still nervous. Gary broke at 8:00AM and began to ramble on about not giving a shit about anything and that he was going to go home. Unlike Jackie, I encouraged Gary to stay. I told him that he was not allowed to go home at this point; otherwise the entire night would have been spent in vain. He stayed to finish his project but I am not sure if it was due to my reasoning or if it was to prevent himself from going home and perhaps committing suicide as a way of ending the pain and frustration that had been brought about by his spending an entire night producing a flower patterned western button up shirt that ended up looking like a Minnesota Viking’s Snuggie for dwarfs. I sewed on my final button at 8:50AM and took my John Deere tractor trench coat upstairs to flaunt it for the miring bros and bitches. At around 10:45AM, I returned to the costume shop to display the fruits of my garment stitching all-night labor to the teacher. She prodded the coat and shook her head at the insurmountable mistakes that were strewed about my Matrix coat due to my hate for reading sewing directions. However, I was quite proud of my coat. It was made with sweat, insanity, hard work, and fucking tractor fabric. I went back to my shithole apartment, enjoyed a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon in a champagne glass, and went to sleep.
These past few weeks have been very busy. I have written several papers, did backstage and lighting stuff for a play, acted in a small play, made an overly complicated theatre banquet video, and to top it all off my dog died this past Thursday. I haven’t even had the time to let that sink in yet. So here’s to my recently deceased dog of 14 years, Spud. And below is the overly complicated video that I had to make too. I also take my hat off to Cristina who spent the night in the costume shop to help us with our projects, as she had already completed the class. The pain of sewing is over now and my jimmies are once again unrustled.