November Catch Up

I’ll be back to regular sorts of posts in December–short essays on ghost and family goings on and such—but I thought I would take the first day of the month to share a few retroactive highlights from my time away from the blog. Because goodness gracious, November. Never the busiest month for me in life, it has certainly become so in death…
Here’s what I was up to, whilst away.

Fashion Week (November 11-15)

Because ghosts are not bound by the same physical rules as humans, we can do our fashion weeks in rather inaccessible locales. So, this year’s fashion week took place deep with the forests of Japan.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Shiratani_Unsui_Gorge_17.jpg

But with fabulous hair for accoutrement.

It was just about as beautiful as could possibly be, with fireflies lighting up the nighttime runways and gorgeous sunsets illuminating the afternoon. And Marc’s line —menswear inspired by campfires, charcoal, and gleaming driftwood—worked incredibly well with the backdrop, adding an extra level of magic to something already quite magical.

But behind all the beauty, of course, are schedules, reservations, rehearsals, bitch-fits, and last-minute problem solving, all of which went from about a 5 to a 10 on the Stress Scale this year. Reason being…this was our first fashion week as independent designers.

In every previous year, we’ve had AMMA dealing with the majority of the nitty-gritty on our behalf. Our first assistants, Danny and Fleur, also had coordinating staff meetings to help them solidify our schedules and appearances. This left Marc and I to just design, execute, and walk.

But this year…well, Marc had to not only design his set but book the space, coordinate the build, schedule the rehearsals, etc. Danny and Fleur had to be incredibly discerning about our interview selection, jettisoning some of the old and bringing in new, and they had to work more time for networking into an already packed schedule. And I had to put on my most confident swagger and go…talk to people. *shudder*

But we managed it all, the show went off well, and I was able to amicably part ways with one of my designers whose brand I’ve outgrown, promising to send him some fresh faces for consideration.

And in the end, at the award banquet, we made out like Junius-Smith bandits…no brag, *ahem.*

Marcus won the overall independent designer category with takes into account new shops opened, sales, brand originality, and design. The man is a sexy, design machine. Also, one of the recipients of Marc’s Rufius Award, named after his late artistic husband, received the award for best new line—Xavvy—and thanked Marc for his mentorship in the speech.

And Mira, our baby queen, won best print advert second year in a row modelling miniaturized Oscar de la Renta. In the shot, she has on a gorgeous red dress with cream under skirts, and she’s coming out of a forest cave and stepping over a puddle while she looks at the sky with this ‘are you quite finished’ expression. Hah! And her walk much improved this year, as well.

I was out of the running this year after winning the top modelling award in 2014, so I was able to just sit and cuddle J-bird and celebrate Marc and Mira.

Then the rest of the month was also about celebrating them, haha.

Marc’s B-Day (November 22)

One of the greatest pleasures of my marriage is having a husband who is truly the easiest person for whom to buy gifts. I mean…it’s extraordinary. He loves anything animal-related, cute and fierce animals both. He loves jewelry, like leather or gold cuffs, thick rings, adornments for his toga. He loves anything he can add to his favourite spaces in the house—kitchen, pool, bath, stables. He loves family-related gifts, anything to do with Roma, things that are fast, photography gizmos, clothing, wine, you name it. And no matter what you give him, it is like watching Christmas unfold before your very eyes.

Ugh, I love it.

And this year for his birthday (which we relocated from June), I got him the most perfect thing—a full afternoon with a falconer, meeting birds, wearing gauntlets, watching raptor predators swoop and dive, and making a new friend, as it turns out the falconer also dabbles in swordplay.

He literally almost cried when I told him what his birthday present was, and he’s been printing out pictures of falcons and pinning them up in his study ever since.

Husband achievement unlocked.

Mira’s Adoption Anniversary and Thanksgiving (November 26-28)

Marcus and I are neither of us American, but our host is, and so we sort of took to this holiday over the years out of proximity more than anything else. We all rather think it’s ridiculous as a celebration of anything even remotely historical, but it does do a good job bringing folks together for moments of warm gratitude, so when we started living part-time in Canada, we rolled it out as a novelty for our mates up there.

They loved it. Ed and Jacques fight us for hosting rights now, haha.

And then in 2013, our (now) daughter Mirabelle stood up on her chair and grandly announced that she had decided to accept our adoption invitation, injecting a whole new level of meaning into the holiday. She makes a toast every year now, baby mimosa in hand. It’s fabulous.

Alexander’s NaNoWriMo (November 1-30)

Of course the other momentary diversion from regular blog posts happened on account of Alex successfully accomplishing NaNoWriMo with 50,206 words on his current historical-fantasy project. I’m madly in love with it, and terribly proud of him—just wanted to say that in public space. Good show, darling sir.

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Back to Work?

If there’s one thing that positively guts me, it’s change.  I can handle about two changes at a time, and anything more than that leaves me morose and exhausted–hence the late post.  It’s not a particularly charming personality trait, but there it is.

As it just so happens, there are approximately 6,000 changes in progress at AMMA, and, therefore, going back to work this week was quite difficult.

Primarily, I’m dealing with the burden, if you ask me, opportunity, if you ask Marc, of releasing my contract.  This is the four year contract I signed when I started at AMMA in 2011, and it has been nothing but gloriously comfortable and productive.  The fine print never came back to bite me, the staff writing position was never arduous, the ensemble modelling was terribly fun, and having AMMA on my side in negotiations with high-fashion runway folks was not only a relief but utterly necessary.

Now I’m being told–in the most complimentary fashion, I’m assured–that I’m too recognisable for ensemble work, too adroit for staff writing positions, and too independently successful to continue with agency representation.

I know.  I know it’s ridiculous to complain about such things, I do.  I’ve made good on my responsibilities, garnered opportunities, and become more coveted than I ever thought possible, and I should strike out on my own.  But I’ll be damned if I’m not just miserable over the idea of leaving AMMA.  They’ve been so wonderful, and I feel so ungrateful.

I expressed this opinion to Robert–CEO, general hardass, and good friend–and after he was finished calling me a number of rather unseemly things and raking me over the coals for naivety, he admitted he was happy to hear that they would be missed and that he’d keep me if he could.  But he had to stand by his decision.  I’ve done more than enough for the company.  I have outgrown the contract. He will not be setting me up with a new one.  It’s for my own good.

Recognising that I was pretty torn up about the whole thing, even if I was attempting a brave face, Marcus took me out to supper on Friday night.  We went to our favourite spot–a tiny Indian restaurant draped in silks and smothered in pillows–and sat in our favourite corner booth.  At the end of supper he folded his napkin and said, “Do non be mad.”  Then he pulled a key out of his pocket and slid it across the table to me.

As it turns out, Marcus, who has always been more of a shrewd and independent businessman than I, saw this contract release a mile away.  And since he had planned to give up his own contract when it expired due to personal and creative differences with the editorial board he secretly purchased new offices two years ago.

That’s right, he had decided to move out of AMMA and across the street into a three flat brownstone two years ago.

I was mad.  Then I was grateful.  Then I was mad that I was grateful.

Then I saw the look on his face, and I knew exactly what he was thinking.  I realised that it was actually a rather big deal for Marcus to recognize that he had trespassed on my autonomy, rather than thinking that he was a 100% unproblematic white knight and know-it-all.  In general, high-ranking priest/official/judge/generals of Ancient Rome were not taught to be apologetic.  And there he was looking apologetic.

It didn’t fix everything but it sure as hell helped…

So, we grabbed a bottle of Bordeaux to go and visited our new offices, wandering around together hand in hand while he explained his thought process and talked about the design plan that has been rattling around in his brain for two years.

Namely, I get the garden and the second floor of the brownstone for whatever fashion needs I have.  I can have an office with a window, or I can burrow into the back corner of the semi-basement and surround myself with books and lanterns, whatever I like.  From those spaces I can sell individual pieces of writing to AMMA as a guest contributor, I can schedule and spread my time more evenly among my high-fashion designers and participate more fully in their businesses, and I can hire myself out as a consultant and runway coach.

The main floor and the top floor, then, are Marc’s, with a flagship haute-couture boutique and tailoring suite on the main and a facsimile of his AMMA offices on the third in addition to a conference room.

Furthermore, I get to keep my staff.  My personal assistant, Danny, is coming with me, as is his new assistant Lucas.  That looks terribly extravagant in writing.  What it really boils down to is that Danny and his husband want to become foster parents and so he hired someone to answer the phones and make the copies so that he can focus on the more complex tasks from home with a baby on his knee.

Marc’s staff is coming, too: his wildly, joyfully aggressive PA, Fleur; his studious artisan of a first assistant and junior partner, John.

Conversations about changes we might make to his plan (which is, admittedly, a great one) turned into conversations about the opportunities the place might offer us.  And those conversations turned into reflections on how it really is rather swell to be able to share your work with your spouse…with minimal bloodshed…and won’t it be grand to go into work next week in our own JS Designs headquarters, to have the kids with us at work whenever we want, and to launch whatever comes next for us from a place of full independence.

And, yes, it will be grand.  A bit scary.  But grand.