Thursday, September 13, 2012


I've noticed that my last couple of blog entries, while sharing important chapters unfolding in my life and the life of Lime Light Fashion, have started to lose some of my signature sarcastic tone. I suppose its a good thing really, that my state of mind these days has been so much sunshine and lollipops and hope for a better future and feeling as though I can singlehandedly change the world – it just doesn't make for a very entertaining read. Well, sorry readers, I just can't shake the positivity. Its oozing out of me from every pore: happiness, confidence, health, energy, passion, and strength.

Its been some time since I really felt this powerful and awesome, in fact it may be that I've never quite felt as awesome as I feel right now. Not that I haven't been a strong powerful woman all along, it has taken all of the strength I have inside me to persevere through some of the struggles I've faced in the past few years, I just wasn't as AWARE of the strength I possessed.

I think some of my awareness now comes from the fact that I've been working out a LOT. When I first decided back in December that I was going to participate in the Mrs. Washington pageant again this year, I committed to it wholeheartedly and promised myself that this time around, I would truly give it my best effort. The first couple of times I did the pageant, I did it mostly to make friends and get to wear pretty dresses. I got out of it exactly what I wanted, wonderful lifelong soulmate “I knew you before we met” kind of friendships and some pretty dresses, which I later sold when I needed cash (the dresses, not the friends). I did not, however, really put my best effort into the physical fitness portion of the competition. “Eh,” I thought, “its only 25% of the total score, my personality rocks so much I totally don't even need to lose weight.” When I look back at the photos, I can admit, I was wrong.

Since the last time I competed in a pageant, I'd let myself get waaaaaay more out of shape than I was admitting. I hadn't been working out much at all in the past year, and I hadn't been REALLY working out since about 1999. The initial change was painful and frustrating, but now that I'm actually back into the habit of it, the results of the past few months of training are finally starting to be visible and I'm feeling stronger than I ever have. I'm aware of my muscles as I just go about daily life, and I like the feeling. Putting away dishes, I can feel the stretch of my bicep as I reach the shelf where the plates go. Its kind of an amazing feeling. I'm strong, I'm sexy, I'm . . . AWESOME. This new found physical strength of mine, combined with the time and opportunities I've had lately to pursue my dreams and do meaningful work that comes from my heart and contributes to the world with what I love, has made me feel completely unstoppable. Looking back on the challenges of the past few years that I've overcome to get to the place I'm at now in my marriage and my career, I realize now that the results I'm finally getting on the outside are the reflection of that inner strength I've always had. I just never applied it to my body before. I'm really glad I finally decided to do so, though, because now I can't stop staring at myself in the mirror, and my husband can't keep his hands off me. I'm totally hot.

I still have just about 8 weeks until the pageant, and I plan to spend them wielding my newfound power and hotness wisely. On October 13th I'm showing a collection in the Ruby Room's annual fundraiser fashion show auction. This show has been an annual pilgrimage for me and several of my pageant sisters from my first year competing every year since. Its the one event a year that I know I'm going to spring for a VIP ticket to, not just because the swag bags are awesome, but because I love supporting the cause. The Ruby Room is a fantastic charity that provides prom dresses to underprivileged girls (and young gays who want to attend Capitol Hill's LGBT prom in drag). For their annual fundraiser they give the old and/or ugly dresses that come in as donations throughout the year to local fashion designers who rework them into new, wearable gowns, and put on a swanky fashion show with wine and hors d'oeuvres and auction off the dresses from the runway.

Every year I attend the show and sit in the audience wishing I could do more, wishing I could give more or be involved in some greater way. Well this year, my wish was granted. I was asked to be one of the showcasing designers in the show! I'm truly honored for the privilege, and for the chance to finally raise more money for the Ruby Room through my creations than I could have ever afforded to spend at the show. So I'm hard at work on the collection made from ugly prom and bridesmaids dresses, and I think you might even be able to pick up on some of my recent feeling of strength and power in the collection. Its just a tad on the S&M side, but kind of sweet and girly meets The Hunger Games, meets S&M. Yah. I'm totally hot.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Starving Artist

Ever since I left the world of property management behind me forever last November and embarked on my journey toward making something meaningful and beautiful and artistic for the world with my life, I've honestly never been happier. I'm also broke. I can't say I've never been more broke, because the truth is, I have. I've been broke pretty much my whole life. There really have only been brief moments, a year here and there, when I haven't been broke, and those in retrospect were not my happiest years.

There was a year early in my marriage when things were going pretty well for my husband and I, we were newlyweds, just bought our first home, and were looking forward to a life full of adventures together, then he got sick. We spent the next year and a half going to doctors, getting referrals to yet more doctors, racking up doctor bills and never getting answers. He had what would later prove to be an unnecessary surgery, we went through a cancer scare, and finally we were given the diagnosis of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and had to come to terms with what that meant for both of our lives. Its tough to look back on that one good year now and even remember whether I had taken the time to savor the feeling of being young and in love and as carefree as we were, all I know is since then things have been more of a struggle and the memory of that time is clouded by the events that changed everything for us.

Back when I was a big shot property manager, sure, I had money to buy clothes and go out to dinner with friends, but I was stuck in a job that was pretty much crushing my soul. Add to that my husband and I struggling to adjust to our changing respective roles in our marriage, and we had bigger problems than just not having extra spending cash. I'm so grateful now that we were able to work through those tough times together. Today our marriage is stronger than ever and I have a deeper respect for Gerrard's sensitivity, his passion for doing good in the world, and his ability to persevere through adversity. Still, I'll take being a little strapped for cash over another year like that anytime.

I did have a supremely happy childhood. I mean truly, Leave it to Beaver cotton candy at the fair birds chirping and rainbows over the dirt lot pick up baseball game kind of crap. We were dirt poor most of the time. My Dad was a wooden boat builder, and is still an amazing craftsman, but the industry took a nose dive somewhere in the early eighties and he was out of work for a long time. Then when he did go back it was grueling, spotty, part time work, swing shifts and graveyard shifts. It was tough on the family. We were on food stamps, went to food banks, and had some pretty sparse Christmases, but we stuck together above all, and we were happy.

My younger brother and me
Sublime childhood summers were spent turning our dirt-hill sand box into a mud pit on hot summer days and playing make believe with my childhood best friend Bonnie until it got dark. We didn't have the fairy wings and Cinderella replica gowns every little girl has now, we made gowns out of sheets my Mom got at garage sales and hung pearl necklaces on our heads pretending to be the Princess in the clamshell bed at the end of The Never Ending Story. Come on, you know you did that too. It was awesome.

My back to school budget was something that first pushed me in the direction of fashion design. Most years I was given a little bit of cash to go to the mall with my girlfriends, but I definitely had to stretch that further than most. I learned to supplement my wardrobe with thrift store pieces which my Mom would help me re-work. To this day Value Village is one of my favorite places on earth.
The guitar Bonnie has there is a nice piece of plywood my
Dad cut for us in the shape of a guitar, and I am using a
free weight for a microphine

I grew up just fine without all of the finer things. In fact, I grew up into a woman with dreams and goals and ambition. I'm not ashamed of being poor, I'm part of the 99%, I'm salt of the earth, I'm a starving Artist. In fact, I'm proud of that monicker, I earn it every time I have to ask the cashier at the grocery store to take off the pack of gum because that was the thing that put me over the amount of cash I have in my wallet. I can honestly say I've been happiest in my life at the times when I've really had nothing. And right now is no exception.

The one major downside, though to being this broke is that I never have anything to give back to the community that has always helped me, to the society that I'm a part of, to the world that I love. I do have my time and my talents, and I try to use those as much as I possibly can to help the organizations whose missions are aligned with my business mission of “Uplifting through Glamour.” I volunteer, I attend events, I make clothing donations to Ruby Room and Queen when I have something appropriate to give them, but I still have a need inside me to give more that I just can't satisfy with a volunteer day or a donated piece of clothing here and there.

This, at the core of it all, is why making Lime Light Fashion House happen is so important to me. It won't just be a store that sells some pretty things and makes me enough money so that I can stop mooching free lunches off my friends and dodging constant collection calls, it will also be my resource to give back. With a permanent show venue I'll be able to host fundraiser events when my charities need, and hold fashion shows for students and upcoming designers to have a place to showcase their work. And with the store concept of encouraging customers to play dress up and work the runway, I will get to spend every day making women feel beautiful and showing people their true potential.

I have to keep pushing no matter how steep the next hill, and I will see it through, no matter how long it takes. Keep your fingers crossed for me readers, while I go through the application process for financing with investor groups, all I need is for one to get it, to understand my passion and my goal and believe in the dream with me, and well, give me the money. Ultimately, I owe it to that little girl inside me who grew up on Rice-A-Roni and Pop Tarts from the food bank playing dress up in garage sale sheets, because the idea to inspire and encourage others through my love of sparkly things never could have come about if that little girl hadn't been as loved and encouraged to always follow her dreams as she was.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

BeDecked! Fashion Show and Auction

So this is my first entry following BeDecked! Fashion show and Auction. This is where you expect to read about the raging success that it was and how it completely springboarded (sprungboard? boardsprung?) my boo-tay to fame and riches, well . . . The stage was set, the talent was booked, the energy came together just right, it was about to go down exactly as I had been imagining, and raise some real start up money for Lime Light Fashion House, then it didn't quite do that. It DID, however, end up being an amazing show. I couldn't be prouder of what we accomplished. As I look over the scores of epic photos from the night, I actually can't believe I produced that event. It looks like something I would have attended, paid for a VIP ticket to even, but the reality of it all being MY show, is like, too much to comprehend.

I had a team behind me of people who all just threw themselves in to making BeDecked! what it became, and I couldn't have done it without their help. Larissa Long, my pageant sister and my friend, provided invaluable support gathering sponsorships and coordinating logistics, Christopher Chapman, most well known as a Photographer, led the effort backstage wrangling models and even leading my rehearsal so I could get my hair done. In retrospect, I realized I probably should have at least gone to the rehearsal so I wouldn't have been standing on the stage at the end of my collection's showcase awkwardly waiting for my models to move while they all looked at me like “why aren't you doing anything?”

Kristen Moores assisted backstage also and helped keep everyone sane, Rhiannon Cups led the hair and make up team and did some amazing work herself, and my hostesses Jessica Riggs and Isis were delightful. I really appreciated having Jessica's calming energy there not just because I knew I could rely on her as an experienced public speaker to make sure the show flowed, but also because she grounds me so much. She's my rock.

I will be forever grateful for the friendship and business connections of everyone who helped with show; the amazingly talented designers who showed, Sailor St. Claire who performed at the show, all the gorgeous models, the fabulous D.J.s, the photographers who covered the event, the bartenders, the hair and make up professionals who calmly executed each designer's vision, the sponsors and the charity partners Ruby Room Seattle and Queen, Its A New Day whose organizations' involvement helped me illustrate my own passion for uplifting and empowering women and teens through the fashion experience.

Yes, BeDecked! was a success. Vivienne Vermillion made her first public appearance (granted, most of the audience had gone home by the time I got the wig on and came out to greet my public, but c'est la vie). The fashion show ran super long and unfortunately being a Thursday evening, people had to get home, so we didn't get to most of the auction or the fun interactive elements of the night, and hence, didn't raise a ton of cash. We did put on a great fashion show, though, and in the end, that's the impression that I think the audience left with. So, I remain broke and at square one when it comes to store funding, but I am not dissuaded. I took a week or so to just decompress after the show, reflect, sleep. Now I'm back to work and preparing to pitch to an angel investment group for funding. Overall, I'm incredibly proud of BeDecked! and have no regrets. Except that I didn't get a cupcake. I hear they were awesome.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vivienne Vermillion

It is with much excitement, a teensy bit of shy hesitation, and a whole lotta uncertainty about the reception that awaits . . . that I unveil to the world my showgirl alter ego, Vivienne Vermillion. I've actually been secretly molding her for a few months now, waiting til the timing was just right and I had all the pieces together, and the chance to get some good photos taken for her debut.

Lately I've been obsessed with the world of burlesque. A lot of the motivation for me to actually get out there and start making the connections with the local troupes that I have in recent months is because I'm attempting to build a business that will cater in part to that world, colliding it with the pageant world and the theater world and the dance world. I am just in love with the picture in my mind of a scene playing out in my store on a typical day: There is an elegant burlesque beauty shopping in my store next to a shy teenage girl who maybe has a few self image issues, and they meet as they chat over the sparkly gowns and jewels, the girl tries one on and the burlesque queen encourages her to strut it on the runway, and the girl's whole attitude changes. That's the magic that I know can happen when you mix these worlds, and will happen as soon as I manage to make it all a reality.

I've been to a few burlesque shows recently and every time I left going “Man I wish I could do that!” Alas, I am a married woman, and as much as Gerrard is a very open and understanding guy, I would tend to not feel right showing his wife's ta-tas to the whole city, even if he gave his blessing. However, I still wanted to feel a deeper connection to this community of amazing inspiring female artists. I decided I wanted to have a burlesque persona, to take photos in character, attend shows, and just not pursue a “performance” career. Kinda like the Paris Hilton of burlesque. So I gave it the appropriate amount of consideration, I carefully mulled over name possibilities, I strategized wig colors, I thought about whether my alter ego would be a naughty saucy girl, or a sweet cutsie doll, or a dark dangerous beauty. The exercise of considering all the possibilities for reinventing oneself – or rather inventing an entirely new self without losing the original – was so empowering and thrilling I think I could have come up with twenty different characters.

I knew my inner showgirl would have to be French, and a redhead at least 90% of the time. So the name Vivienne Vermillion found its way into my brain surprisingly easily, especially considering how much I agonized over the name for my business . . . shameless, rhinestone, feathered . . . lime-what?

As plans for this super blow out fashion show/auction I'm planning called BeDecked! come together rapidly, I'm tempted to make that night Vivienne's first official out in public appearance. There's a lot riding on this night, though, for me as a business owner. I do want to appear professional, and as myself for at least most of the night. I've invited investors from a few Angel investment groups around town to the show, so they can see what I'm capable of, and maybe, just maybe the magic of my vision come to life will suck them in and make them want to partner with me in business. So I figure I should probably be available to at least greet them and shake hands as Angelique Ashton, before costume changing into my alter ego. Also, as a Desginer, I want to take my bow and the credit for my work as my true designer self. So its tough to figure our just when in the evening it would be appropriate to become Vivienne, but I have about a month to think it over, so we'll see. If you are at BeDecked! On June 28th, MAYBE, you'll get to meet her.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day 2012

Yesterday was Earth Day and I spent it coming back from a road trip to Leavenworth (carpooling, of course) with two of my lovely pageant sisters. It was a gorgeous day as we drove home to the Puget Sound region through the mountains and along the river appreciating how utterly beautiful our Washington state is. Being blessed as we are to live in a state so rich with the beauty of nature makes it easy to understand why its so important to protect it, all you have to do to feel connected to nature here is look outside. In Leavenworth, we were hosted by a fellow contestant in her home which overlooked get this – a vineyard and the white capped mountains surrounding the little Bavarian themed town, it was unbelievable idyllic and a wonderful view to wake up to on Earth Day.

I had wanted to do something to celebrate and participate in Earth Day this year, but I had the prior commitment in Leavenworth. However, the trip itself did inspire me to share a few things with my friends and readers about ways everyone can make a difference for Earth Day this year. You know how you sometimes click on a link on the internet that says “10 simple ways to organize your life” or 5 easy things you can do to lose weight” and then none of the things on the list are really all that simple or easy . . . well, I'll be honest, these tips may take a little effort, but have payoffs for the community and the planet and your family's health that are worth it, and they may open your eyes up to a beautiful new world and inspire more changes. Fair warning, clean living can be highly addictive.

Tip 1. Buy organic and buy local – and both when possible. The simplest way to start making healthier cleaner choices in your life is to start with food. Buying from local and organic sources supports those farmers who don't get huge subsidies from the government to produce mass quantities of vitamin depleted genetically modified food cheaply. When we make the choice to pay a few cents more, we say with one voice, in the universal language of money – that we want healthier food. If you drink wine, this is one of my favorite ways to always ensure you are supporting local farmers. Ask the expert in the wine section to show you to something that is organic and from Columbia Valley. Admittedly, there aren't that many choices that fit this category, but if we all buy the few that are there and those small wineries grow, they will be able to produce more and their competition will catch on and start going organic, and there will be more choices. When that happens, you can look back and say, “I made that happen.”

Tip 2. Visit a fantastic favorite website of mine: This website put together by Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, contains a searchable database of pretty much every chemical imaginable that would be in a household or beauty product. It makes it easy to learn about what is in the products you use and what effects those substances have on the body. Pick up your shampoo bottle, flip it over and choose a chemical listed in the ingredients. Enter that chemical into the search field on Skin Deep and see what comes up. I guarantee you'll be surprised and horrified. Now try it with your fabric softener, your toothpaste, your deodorant, etc. After seeing what's in the products you currently buy, consider looking for ones that don't contain those same chemicals you just read about. Check out your local Super Supplements store for cleaner choices on most personal care, beauty, and household cleaning products.
Lastly, join me in celebrating MCS Awareness month this May. Betcha didn't know May was MCS awareness month . . . or for that matter, show of hands, how many are actually aware of what MCS is? Hence the need for an awareness month, and for making the changes listed above to send the message to manufactures of our household products that we want to live better, we want to live cleaner, we want to make life safe for those already afflicted by conditions such as MCS and Gulf War Syndrome, and we are going to let our dollars do our talking to prove our point. I am currently on the look out for local events and will share as I find out where they are happening, and I may be planning something myself to promote awareness for MCS in May.

(Climbing down off my soapbox in a ladylike manner)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I've gotta have these chairs!

Planning for the eventual opening of my fashion superstore wonderland is continuing daily. I am totally nose to the grindstone on polishing my business plan, which now has actual financial projections in it. I've had several all too familiar days of staring at spreadsheets of numbers again in the past weeks, but its a labor of love this time around, instead of just labor.

As the formal business plan comes together, I'm getting ready to put all of my hopes and dreams on the line and launch an online campaign to raise a chunk of start up capital for the store. If the campaign is unsuccessful, it would be a pretty major set back, because its going to be very difficult to get interest from banks and/or investors without at least SOME of my own skin in the game – and I currently have no skin. I'm skinless. On the flip side, though, if this little asking strangers for money adventure is successful, it could be absolutely life changing. It would seriously increase my chances of getting the loan and making the store a reality, and it would give me a little breathing room in the meantime to be able to clear up old debts and work on my credit rating so when I do apply to a bank they don't just laugh in my face.

It's not going to be easy though, in order to raise any substantial amount of money, its going to take a groundswell of support that stretches well beyond the realm of just my friends and family. I need this campaign to go viral! I do have a super cute video of myself sitting in front of my vanity mirror explaining the goal and mission of the store, and in the process, displaying several of my favorite creations. I put a lot of work into the video and am excited to at the very least, share that accomplishment with everyone.

Another important planning task I've been working on (although possibly not as important at this stage as the financial projections or the fund raising campaign) is sourcing out furnishings and d├ęcor for the store. It helps keep me motivated to dream about what the space will look like, and spend a few minutes a day browsing for pricing on things like crystal chandeliers, mannequins, dress racks, etc. It also helps me build a solid estimate of the amount I will need to borrow for start-up.

I have always tended to lean a little towards the champagne taste side of life, and unfortunately have always had to make do with less. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret my life of always barely scraping by, life's experiences have taught me to be strong, self-reliant, patient and to always have faith. I normally also tend to do very well for myself on my shoestring budget. Somehow I always manage to get by and get what I want out of life, for the most part. Well, in choosing furnishings for my dream store I'm coming to realize this is probably going to be one of those “OK, I'll take the used one” kind of life situations. Furniture is expensive. Crystal chandeliers, yah, those are expensive too. Building a stage and a runway in an empty warehouse, mm hmm, that's gonna cost ya. There's one item that the store needs though, where I've reached a sticking point and I refuse to budge. The runway chairs.

I spent several hours researching the types of chairs that would be most economical and appropriate considering both storage space and durability . . . I poured through hundreds of photos of New York and Paris fashion shows, studying the chairs people were sitting in. I want an authentic “fashion show” chair lining my runway, not a hotel chair, a school play chair, an office cafeteria chair, etc. In my store vision photo that I built with an online rendering program, I put in Chiavari chairs. I have always loved them. I wish I could have had them at my wedding but the place already came with chairs so it didn't make a whole lot of sense to bring them in. (Looking back I wish I'd just gone for it, since when to things that Brides do make sense anyway?)

So after comparing the price of your average run of the mill folding chair to a stackable Chiavari chair, I was a little shocked to learn that its going to cost almost the same either way I go. Why the heck do folding chairs cost $20 a piece anyway? So, I decided if its going to cost $6,000 for chairs no matter what, I'm getting the dang crystal clear resin Chiavari chairs. They are fabulous.

EVEN THOUGH the cost is going to be the same either way, there's still this tiny little voice of self doubt that creeps into my head when I let my guard down. A tiny little voice that asks “Come on Angelique, what have you done in your life to deserve THOSE chairs?” I'm pretty sure the voice isn't really just referring to the chairs, but in general the chairs seem to represent the vision of the store actually becoming a reality, the idea that my life could really be one lived on no one's schedule but the one I set for myself and that I could one day be truly financially independent – wealthy even, as a business owner. The voice makes me feel guilty. I don't understand it, but I can certainly feel the very real guilt; guilt for planning a campaign to ask strangers for funding which feels a little like charity, guilt for a life I don't even have yet, guilt for wanting it so bad, and for sticking to my guns that I'm going to see this out even if it means failure. I'm the bread winner in our household, so I feel guilty for not just giving up on this pipe dream and hitting the job postings to find another thankless horrible black hole of a job where I can live out the next twenty years of my life, just breathing in and out.

For now at least, I'm able to fight the guilt back, and soldier on. I mean doesn't everyone deserve to go after their dreams? I think so. And I also think that nothing in this green Earth is going to stop me from getting the crystal Chiavari chairs. Now they are kind of like, more than chairs. They are becoming these shining little beacons of hope for the future. Anyway, be watching for my facebook and twitter announcements of the start of the funding campaign. I'll need everyone's help sharing it and forwarding it and re-tweeting it to get it in front of the eyes of people with big bucks to invest in a beautiful, passionately led fledgling Seattle business. And also, let me know if anyone sees 300 crystal clear Chiavari chairs at a garage sale.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sweet Nothings

Well, I promised an exciting post-fashion show blog post, and I'm not 100% sure I can deliver, but I'll try. As I've reflected on the experience that was Sugar does Portland, and my second ever fashion show, overall, I am satisfied.

I was super prepared this time, had the car packed the night before and ready to go, and I wasn't still putting touches on things the day of the show, so that's an improvement over last time. Two of my models were no-shows, but I'm already an old pro after two whole fashion shows now, so I took it in stride and negotiated with another designer to share two of hers. All of the models killed it in my looks, as I have come to expect of Sugar events. We bonded and supported one another and launched careers and created magic.

I had choreographed little interactions between my models as they passed on the runway and it was a true story in motion. My vision of a Studio 54-esque Venetian Disco Carnival Party came to life, it was fantastic. But all of that, even as I typed it, was not giving me goosebumps, I wasn't on the edge of my seat recalling the memory of a truly unforgettable night. It was a great experience, but what more is there to tell? Where is the excitement for my reader in saying “It was a great experience, I had a lovely evening”?

Maybe I'm just getting too old for unforgettable nights. I have to say, the next day, I realized I was a little disappointed in myself for the various missed opportunities I'd had to grab life by the balls that night and live that I had passed up. For example, I spent hours creating the most fabulous rhinestone shoes that have ever existed, and I only actually wore them for about fifteen minutes. I realized as I went through photos the next day that I didn't even get any good pictures of me in the shoes. What was I thinking? So many places around that venue where I could have grabbed a photographer and gotten awesome shots of those shoes, (which I actually would like to start selling, could have used some good portfolio/publicity shots) the staircase in front of the grungy wall outside the club, flung over the shoulder of one of the hunky male Sugar models . . . you know, just plenty of places. I also didn't think to have the models get photos in the garments or mingle in the crowd wearing the stuff after the show, we just changed out of everything immediately and threw it all back in the car. Months of work, and it was barely seen.

Two friends of mine came all the way to Portland to support me in the show, and had a hotel in town. Knowing I was bound to be exhausted after the show, they begged me to crash with them in Portland, to come out and have a few drinks with them and relax after all the hard work. I said no. I snuck out of the show before the party even really died down, and headed straight home. I realized about a half hour in to the four hour drive that that was a really stupid move. I thankfully made it home safely, after three hours of slapping myself in the face and driving with the windows down and radio on full blast trying to avoid nodding off and wondering why I didn't just stay with Jackie and Colin. Why didn't I wear those fabulous shoes out in Portland and have a couple beers? What happened to me? When did I get old?

The weekend after the Portland show was Sugar's Not So Silent Auction fundraiser event at Pink in Seattle, to raise money to get the tour bus out of the shop. I deliberately waited to write my blog post recapping the Portland show until after the auction because I thought I could salvage the lameness of the story I had to tell by making the night following the auction a wild and crazy as well as productive and business bolstering night. This time I was fully prepared to network and mingle and party, to prove I'm not 32 and practically dead. I had my hair done, painted my nails for the first time in months, I wore my graffiti corset, my boobs looked amazing. I wore my rhinestone shoes again. I even threw my crown and sash in my set bag, thinking I would have an opportunity after the auction to further promote the Sugar cause by reppin for the Sugar team as their resident beauty queen.

Unfortunately, the auction was a complete crash and burn. We didn't sell any of the items donated by Designers, including me. The only things we did sell all night were cupcakes, and sort of desperate, vaguely human trafficking reminiscent dates with models and members of the Sugar team. We were all kind of bummed afterwards, and got booted out of the VIP room precisely at 10:00 pm, so in all the rush to get everything back in the car, it didn't seem like anyone was in the mood to make further plans for the evening, so I ended up just leaving and heading for home.

After the auction I decided I was going to need a nice bath and a glass of wine, but I didn't have any at home, so I popped in to QFC to grab a bottle. As I perused the selection, I thought about what I would say in this blog post. I pretty much assumed at that point all hope for an exciting story to tell to accompany the photos of my collection in the show and promote Sugar's tour as they get ready to head to Austin next month was gone. Lost in contemplation, I barely noticed a really eccentrically dressed person walk up next to me. If it hadn't been for her 12 inch block platform shoes clacking on the linoleum I probably wouldn't have even looked up, but as I did, I saw standing next to me, the one and only Lady Gaga. Yes, I ran into Lady Gaga in the wine section at QFC. She gestured in the direction of the champagne and the burly bodyguard with her began loading a cart with all the bottles QFC had of whatever was on the top shelf. Then she actually spoke to me. “Oh my GOSH,” she said, “where did you get those shoes, they are amazing!”

I was completely awestruck, but I managed to stammer a reply, “I made them, I'm a designer.” “I must have them!” she exclaimed, “how much do you want for them?” I screamed a little. Lady Gaga wanted to buy the shoes off my feet – which would mean millions of people would see my work, my career would completely take off, this was all really happening in the wine section at QFC. . . OK, I give up. None of that actually happened. I actually came straight home, showered and watched the news with Gerrard. I am old and lame. Sorry.