Hey, I’ve been away. I know. No, I’m not dead, but I have been going through unfortunate stuff that had negative implications to my career.
So, I might have mentioned here and there earlier this year that I had been going through a skin condition. Basically this mystery rash that I have had off and on since 1999, usually every 2 years lasting for a few weeks or a few months. Someone had told me it was a stress rash called Pityriasis Rosea, (or perhaps I had diagnosed myself?) and there really wasn’t much that could be done about it, but UV light helped it go away quicker. This was a non-contagious, non catchable thing but still not pretty, basically looking like measles or chicken pox.
Well after a few years of not having it, I had a bit of a flare up in March, but thankfully subside in April, when I got Cherry Pie and Burlesque or Bust done. It tends to be most noticeable on the sides of the tummy under the breasts, but above the waist, so it’s usually easily covered by corsets and many of my outfits, but anything with a bare midriff would show it.
And I know, you all are going to say that I look great, what am I talking about? well, DUH, of course I’m not going to post pictures of me looking like I have some skin disease, you know, that would be sort of a career suicide.
The rash was back again in May, and did a little to dampen my spirits at Fetish Factory in Florida, then it went away for a while. But at the end of August, it came back and finally, fuck this, I needed to do something about it. I had a few floating offers to shoot some mainstream porn video that I pretty much had to turn down, because of it. Sure, I CAN get away with doing photos, (lots of photoshop work to fix it, but it’s not impossible), but for video, forget it. And even if another company was going to shoot photos of me like that, I wouldn’t have any guarantee that they’d make the same effort that I would to fix those pictures.
So, I was thankfully pretty clear when I shot “Polkadot bikini Bimbo” and “Porcelain Victorian” in August, but a week or two before Montreal Fetish Weekend, the rash came back with a vengeance. So this time dammit, I went to see a doctor who prescribed me some pills to take to help clear it up, and I switched gears to making outfits for the event.
And this year I didn’t do too bad with the craziness of “how many new outfits am I going to try to make in not enough time” as last year, I already made half this blue and white “Flamenco” outfit. So essentially, I had already been through the super stressful part of making this outfit, which I literally had dropped half-made, and completely forgotten about it until looking for things to make for this year.
So it really didn’t take much to wrap this one up and make it into something special, though I think when I actually shoot in it, I might try a different hair color. Not sure yet. Actually, my rash isn’t noticeable in this picture, but in next picture it is. Regardless, I had confidence that it would be gone in a week for Montreal.
I know it’s kind of a crappy front-facing iphone 4 selfie but I can assure you, the rash is there.
There was also ambitious plans to make “Mecha Tara” but those were scuttled pretty quickly when it was clear I didn’t have time for new techniques or unproven materials.
Yeah, it’s a welded tail with a buttplug and cockring built in. It will look pretty cool when it’s finished, if it’s not too heavy. The final idea is kicking around here in sketches, but truth was, I was working on this the night before leaving so it was really more of just a weird tangent I went off on. And hopefully unlike last year’s unfinished “Flamenco” outfit, I won’t take a year to wrap this one up.
So I drove up the 360 miles to Montreal in an old Volvo 240 wagon, which was reasonably solid and had made the trip before, but like most Volvo bricks, has like 400,000,000 miles on it. I’m not sure why I didn’t drive a different car, as I do have a VW New Beetle here as well, but I think something silly like the cooling fan wasn’t turning on, and on the Volvo it’s connected to the motor so it can’t overheat, plus the Volvo has more room inside so I could bring like 3 or 4 Big Hats.
I hadn’t taken this car on a long trip in a while (a few years back it made it to Pennsic as well), and sort of had forgotten about how the wheel bearings and driveshaft bearing were kind of gravelly, to say the least. About 100 miles in, it all came back to me, “oh yeah, I forgot about all the little problems with this car”. But I pressed on.
Somewhere at a rest area in New Hampshire, I stopped to pee, and came back out and tried to start the car up. Nope, battery almost dead. Also, I had forgotten how this particular car had a so-so alternator, and if you were driving around during the day, you’d be fine, but say it was at night, and you had the lights, wipers, fan and radio all on, you’d barely be charging the battery. Well, I had been using the radio and fan, so apparently that was enough to do the battery in. Sadly, the Volvo is an automatic, so I could not pop start it (I’m not much of a fan of automatics because of this. Yes, I have pop started many a jalopy).
So, called AAA and they were being dicks to me. I just wanted a jump as I knew about 15 miles down the road was a big retail area and could buy a new battery. But they seemed to insist that they only wanted to tow it somewhere. Thankfully someone offered to give me a jump and I cancelled my AAA call. I got to Auto Zone, all accessories off, where I discovered I charged the battery enough to be able to start up again and be on my way. But I still bought a new battery anyway, just as a back up. I really knew now that I had to get to Montreal before it got dark because those lights would probably tip the scales.
And yeah I know what you’re all going to say, “Geez Tara, you need a new car”. You know, I borrowed a friend’s ’13 Dodge Dart and as nice smooth and reliable that it was, it was incredibly claustrophobic and I can’t believe how close to the top of the windshield the driver’s forehead is. And the butt is so high up in the air that it needs back up cameras. Which to me is a solution for a problem that shouldn’t have had to exist in the first place. Sure, there’s lots of nice, interesting features and electronic bells and whistles, but most of that I find to be distracting. I wouldn’t quite say that I hate new cars, but I find that they all seem the same, and I made this weird, conscious decision a while back that I’d rather maintain a small fleet of solid classic cars, all very different designs and very different driving experiences. My Volvo is pretty solid, being a California car, but I just have to work a few of the mechanical issues out.
Anyway I sailed through customs without getting the car searched (or the full body cavity search!) and rolled into town just as the sun was going doing. I found a place to park where I didn’t need to move my car until Sunday. And since I did have to turn the lights on, once I shut it off, I tried to start it again, and the battery was dead, of course. Which was fine as I had a new one waiting in the wings. Actually, the reason I didn’t put the new one in in NH is that I was getting by ok on the one I had, and I felt no reason to half drain two batteries rather than just fully drain one of them and leave one untouched.
So at this point you must be thinking it’s all car drama, and there’s no actual fetish event here. Well, give it a couple of days. But for now, I could concentrate on doing what I do best, but I was sort of getting the short version of this event, having driven in on a Friday evening and heading back Monday, Labor Day.
The club nights were ok, and I’ll just sort of give a run down of each outfit I wore. At this point, I wasn’t seeing any improvement to my rash, so the best I could do was get some Dermablend (a really thick make up cover that costs like $30 a tube) and just sort of hope everything looks ok in photos.
So this first one is a wonderful bellbottom catsuit thingy I made last January that I have not shot a shoot with. It’s got a weird sort of rhinestone Vegas sort of quasi Elvis vibe to it, if that’s a thing. I added the fur collar and cuffs so it keeps evolving and it’s one of my favorite recent outfits. Like I said, it’s on the books to do a shoot with very soon, I just have to find a matching room to shoot in, or build a set the right colors to shoot against. It does NOT work well in any of my pink rooms or against a pink backdrop, so that’s why the shoot has not happened.
By the time I got back from the first club night, I was pretty exhausted. So, on to the next day. But from the looks of these pictures, you’d think I’d never left my room. I’m sure some pictures exist of me at the clubs. Here’s one, taken with and by a guy from Transformation Magazine…
I gotta say, even though that fur is just rabbit fur that I had to stuff behind it, it’s looking really nice and is a nice addition to this outfit.
Actually, you can see that the Dermablend it doing it’s job, though I could totally understand if a camera flash might make the rash more noticable. I think Saturday was the night of the fashion runway show and though I wasn’t in it, I sort of, uh, crashed it, so to speak. You know how they say “Never show up the bride” or “Don’t wear red at a funeral”? Yeah, I’m that person who does that..
Ooh, not really tucking well there, am I?
The other outfit worn that night was “Tea and Crumpets” (Strumpets? Even I forget what I call these shoots half the time). Which though half of it was old, half was new this year and all of it was unseen in Montreal.
I really do like the way this one came out, and how I sluttified the old “Courting Boat” outfit.
So, Sunday afternoon comes around and it’s time to move the car to another side street. I’ve done Montreal enough times to know where to park for free (why pay $20 a day for 4 days?). You just gotta know how to read the signs, and know your days of the week in French. So I put the new battery in the Volvo and came around to my new spot on another street. And literally as I’ve just completed my parallel parking job and about to go from “R” to “P”, all of a sudden I’ve got nothin’ in the shift lever.
Uh oh. I shut the car off, and look under it, and a piece of linkage is hanging down. It’s touching the pavement, but not bent or broken, but apparently some other bit was. And, well, it was pouring outside. Well shit, I wasn’t expecting this. I expected electrical problems, or some other issues, I had no idea the shift linkage would fall apart. And no linkage means I can’t start up the car, or of course, drive it. Shit.. Shit shit shit. Oh, and SHIT.
Welp, I guess I know what I’ll be doing in the next couple of hours. I did have a pretty full tool kit, and I managed to get off the broken bit.. Aha. So THATs why my shift felt pretty sloppy anyway.
So that L shaped piece on the upper left fell apart into two pieces, and then that iteself needs to attatch to the flat piece with the holes on it, that actually shifts through the gears on the transmission.. This picture was taken after I peened over the end of the threaded barrell onto the L shaped piece, with a hammer, using the manhole cover on the street as an anvil. The reason it all fell apart was because the plastic bushings had worn away, and so I re-made the bushings with bits of a cap to a red Sharpie pen.
So I needed some sort of snap ring to keep this all together, and turns out there was a non-crucial one holding the rear seat bottom pin in. And then I wrapped it all up in wire to keep it all held together. The plan was, that this would get me to Home Depot on Labor Day, or to a Volvo garage. This particular part , by the way, appears to not be available from any car parts stores, not that I’d have a clue what to call it in French. I mean, it’s a doohicky, gizmo thingamabob, right?
So it was all back together and though I had a couple hours of freaking out (mostly dreading having to tow it somewhere, to people probably less equipped to fix it than it turns out I am), but mostly my friend around me marvelled at how well equipped I was to deal with this. Friend of mine were like “I want Tara on my zombie apocalypse team!”, and someone else said I had “MacGuyvered it back together”
But it really took the focus away from the weekend festivities of the fetish show. At some point, I just really wanted to cut my losses and go home, not stick around searching for bits of Volvo. Or worse, trying to get out to junkyards out in the sticks of Quebec, where surely they spoke even less English. Oh, and as you can see, when I take over a room with my stuff, I really do sprawl a bit.
So Sunday night rolls around, and I’m down to “Flamenco” and whatever I had left. I think I did fine for outfits, and I managed to not destroy my civilian clothes crawling under the car. As it turned out, we had a break in the rain, and I hunted around literally in alleyways for a hunk of cardboard to lay on while replacing the shift linkage. I could have gotten a hell of a lot filthier, but did ok. It’s a good think I have gloves to cover them dirty fingernails, that’s for sure. But from the look on my face, you can sorta tell I’m Done With This Shit, and ready to go home.
I did get taken out to sushi by a friend (who had offered a tow back to her place and really was my safety net, thank you!), but I was just going to see how Monday went with searching for some extra bits to make my repair a little more permanent. Rounding out my outfits was my Valentine’s Day outfit from 2017.
Monday rolls around, and apparently Labor Day might as well be Christmas as EVERYTHING is closed, even Home Depot. So screw that plan, I guess. And of course, the one Volvo specialist I found was also closed, so I put the linkage back on (ok, I don’t recall if i put that back in Sunday or Monday), and was hedging my bets that maybe I’d get a few good shifts out of it before it could potentially fall apart again ( I was more worried about shifting in whatever particular direction might want to pull the part apart, rather than keep it pushed together).
So once I got in the car, shifted from Park to Drive, I was like “Ok, lets just GO”, because honestly, I could get all the way to customs, and beyond without having to touch the shift lever at all. I’d have to put it back into park to get gas, but by that time, I’d be back in America, and could find an open Home Depot, or use my AAA (I was never clear wether my AAA worked in Canada or not).
So I got home, and the car shifted quite fine. In fact, I’m still on the MacGuyvered repair, though I really should take it back off and make it a bit more permanent (honestly, I’m thinking of just welding the peened over bit to the other bit, so that it can’t come apart again.
Montreal was fun, but I’ve done it so many times I think I’d like to try something different. Plus this year, my skin rash sort of sapped away some of my confidence. I got back home and I sort of fell into a bit of a depression, because the medication they gave me wasn’t working at all. And that’s why you haven’t seen much of me for a while, at least on this blog, and also just in general on my site.
But I have found other things to do, and yes! There is a happy ending for my skin condition, a solution that I never expected, and feel stupid for not doing in the first place…
But I will leave all that for the next blog entry…