My name rhymes with "Lisa,"
I live in Midland, Texas, because it's warm
and the mortgage is cheap,
and of course this is my natural hair color. Of course!
The EGE--The Ever-Gorgeous Earl--is my husband of 35 years.
I have the best job in the world:
I call up artists
and ask them a bunch of nosy questions and then write about them. Or podcast them, if we're going to let "podcast" be a transitive verb. I write, I blog, I podcast, I stitch. In my spare time, I do it all some more.
No, I didn't: I said I was done giving stuff away because of the packing-and-shipping part, didn't I? While I love finding new homes for stuff, I wish someone would just show up and ooooh and ahhhh over the things I no longer need, and I could lovingly wrap those things in newspaper and bubble wrap (or, more likely, dump them in a box, because I have few things that are actually fragile, knowing myself as I do) and send them home with this person. In truth, I want to meet a younger/more acquisitive version of myself: someone who would adore the same stuff I have adored and who would want to give it a good home. Although: I would want them to be unlike me in that they would actually USE THIS STUFF.
Goodlordalmighty. I am my mother's daughter after all. And I fight it every day. My mother saved everything, and she took care of stuff, and when she died, there was a ton of perfectly good Stuff filling her closets and drawers. But it was not Perfectly Good Stuff that *I* wanted or that anyone I know would want.
I do not want to leave Perfectly Good Stuff behind when I go, and while I would like to believe that someday I might use this stuff--this paper-related stuff--the truth is that I'm not going to. My fingers aren't going to get any better, and holding a pen and writing isn't going to get any easier. I've turned my focus toward stitching--in part because I love it and have been doing it for most of my life, but also because it's not as painful to do. So. Over the last few years I've found homes for much of what I used to love: the rubber stamps (not finger-friendly to use, as you know if you've ever stamped) and many of the pens and pencils and much of the paper. But there were still several little drawers full of stuff I couldn't bear to send away: fabulous little envelopes from estate sales, really nice deckle-edge paper, cool stationery made from cigar paper and coffee beans and stuff. I kept thinking I'd do something with it, someday, but here recently I've been going through another purge, getting rid of yet more clothes, clothes I thought I would wear but haven't. And you know the rule: if you don't love it and wear/use it, don't keep it.
Plus a lot of people have been very, very kind to us recently, since the vehicle burglary, and I'd like to pass some of that warm fuzziness on, out into the world.
I didn't think there was anyone out there who still cares about paper and funky envelopes and mail art and stuff. Curious, I posted on Facebook yesterday, asking, and wow: over 100 people said, "YES! I do!"
So here's what I'm doing. I'm going to try to find a box this weekend that will hold all this:
Fabulous vintage postage stamps I adore:
A shoebox with a bunch of random cool stuff from watercolors to scissors to a leather pencil case to book tape to Sharpies that may or may not have much ink to--to I have no idea what else:
Some of these I tested to see how well they took stamp inks and colored pencils. I saved those, and they're in here, too. Some of the little manila envelopes have cards inside, pieces of handmade paper I got from a job at the local printer:
Lots of old envelopes, tiny, tiny ones I don't even know the purpose of but that are just so cool and that I imagine I would use in journals to hold tiny stuff:
Airmail envelopes (sorry so blurry but too lazy to re-shoot)
Envelopes with cards:
You get the idea:
Ideally, I'd be able to set this in a box out on my front porch, and someone who would adore it would magically arrive and whisk it away while I was working, and they would adore it and USE IT ALL UP.
Since that's not likely, though, here's what I'm going to do. I'm posting this here today, and I'll put a link on Facebook. If you want it, you MUST post a comment here, NOT on Facebook (I have to have a way to make it easy for me to do this). I will pick someone and post on Monday, and if you get it, then you've got to send me an email and give me your address. It MUST be a US address, of course--this is going to be a hefty box, and there's no way I'm shipping overseas. Sorry about all the musts here.
The biggest deal, though, is this: I don't want you to toss your name in if you think, "Eh, why not. Might as well." I want someone to get this who will go NUTS when they open the box, just as I did when I scored all those tiny envelopes in a dusty box in the back bedroom of some estate sale, or when I found those postage stamps for sale online. You know: squealing involuntarily because it's just beyond cool to you. AND I want it to be used. I don't want this stuff to sit around in someone else's drawers until they die and their relatives toss it in the dumpster because, you know: it's just trash to most people. I want to find someone to whom it most decidedly is not trash. Someone like me, but better: someone who will use all this.
So tell me about it. Post a comment, ramble, tell a story. Not to impress me so I'll pick you, but to share with whoever else posts and reads the comments. Do you still send real mail? Do you adore paper in all its forms? What's the coolest thing you ever sent in the mail? Received in the mail? Tell us something, please--
And then come back on Monday for the (purely subjectively-picked) winner--and thanks for helping me find a good home for stuff too fabulous to entrust to just anyone~~
Now, if you're going, "I remember those!" then you read last month's issue of O Magazine, too. The EGE subscribes to it for me; it's the only magazine subscription I have, and I read everything in it. Well, except the make-up stuff; I skip that. And the hair stuff; ditto. And the food part--I never read that (he does, though--he's one of those people who can read a recipe and know how it will taste; I'm one of those people who reads a recipe and goes, "What the hell does 'braise' mean, anyway?)
Anyway: so at the bottom of one of the articles was one of those short little blurbs, and this was about memory. It had a little test: you studied a list of ten words for a minute (or two minutes, because I DO NOT REMEMBER that part, OK? It wasn't part of what I was supposed to remember), and then you go back and read a half-page article about something totally unrelated, and then you try to write down the ten words. I thought, "Well, let's see just how bad things really are, shall we?" So I did it, and whoa: not only did I remember all ten words, but I remembered them in order (it's been a couple weeks, and I don't know where the magazine is (it's in The EGE's Den, so he can check the recipes, and I try to avoid that place because it frightens me), so I don't know if those, above, are still in order or not. In order! And then I took a nap, and when I woke up I saw the magazine lying there, and I wondered if I still remembered the ten words. Yep, and still in order. And the next day? Yep. Same thing. And a couple days later? Yay! And, also, "Huh?" as in, "Whose brain is this, anyway?"
And then I forgot all about it until this morning when I was writing a post and mentioned memory and wondered if I still remembered those words.
This means something, I'm sure, but I have no idea what it means. My walking partner would say it means I remember stuff I want to remember. Lots of people believe that: that we remember what we want to and claim bad memory for everything else. I don't think that's true, because my life would be easier if I remembered more stuff. I wouldn't have to worry about hurting people's feelings if I remembered them and their names.
I don't understand memory. Oh, I have ideas about how it works, about forming neural pathways and reinforcing those, stuff like that. But the science of it is beyond me, and my own memory just baffles me. I can't remember people or names or things that happened or conversations. I can see someone and not have any idea who they are: I've had long conversations with people who have come up and hugged me, and we have schmoozed for half an hour, and then I've come home and tried to describe them to The EGE so he can tell me who they were. But just this week I looked out the front door, down the street, and saw someone walking away from me. I couldn't see their face, and they were half a block away and I didn't have my glasses, but I thought, "Huh, what's Coach S. doing walking over here in our neighborhood?" This is someone I haven't seen in years and, even then, saw only sitting in the back seat of a car. I haven't seen him walking, either toward me or away from me, in decades, since he coached with The EGE. But something about the way this person's legs and body moved immediately made me think of him AND remember his name.
This has happened before: we were walking in the neighborhood and saw someone a block ahead of us, walking away from us, and I said, "That looks like Mr. W.," someone I knew only because The EGE had worked with him at school--so it wasn't as if I knew him well, and he doesn't live in the neighborhood, and we hadn't seen him in years, and I would normally not have even begun to be able to recall his name. But I recognized him from seeing him walking away from us (I was right; that's who it was). I once recognized one of our nephews just from seeing the back of his legs from the knees down, standing in line at the store. I used to be able to recognize the handwriting of all my co-workers.
But when people we know come up and greet us, most of the time I have no idea who they are. I mean, not even a glimmer that I've ever seen them before. And I admit it: I lie. Someone asked me last week if I remember them, and I said, "Yes!" I was lying, but I hate hurting people's feelings. It's another reason I don't go many places without The EGE; he remembers everyone and has learned how to give me surreptitious clues.
I have always just assumed there's something wonky in there, in the Memory Storage Department, and it's never really bothered me because I don't spend a lot of time in the past--there's too much I want to think about right now to sit and ruminate, as my mother loved to do even when she was younger.
Now I'm thinking maybe it's not so random and maybe it's also not like my friend says--that I remember only what I want to--but that I remember things I decide I have to remember. You know, like making a little slot for them because you need to. I don't know, though: I've forgotten things I needed to remember--a chiropractor's appt., for instance. I don't dare trust my memory to keep due dates--all that is written down and put in iCal with multiple reminders. And it's not a short-term/long-term memory thing: I don't remember much at all from my past, even from college, much less childhood. I talk to people I interview who remember things from before they were a year old, and I'm amazed. The only things I "remember" from back then are things of which I have photographs, so that I'm not sure if I remember the actual thing itself or just remember looking at the photos and having my mother tell me about them. I think I remember something from when I was 4--the bad boy next door peed in the bathtub (not the kind of thing you'd have a photograph of)--but even that, I'm not really sure about.
Anyway, I'd love to hear your stories about memory--how yours works, its quirks. I think in another life I'd like to study memory--when I was younger, it never occurred to me to study any kind of science at all, much less brain science, but now I think it would have been an endlessly fascinating field. I'd apprentice myself to Steven Pinker--think he'd accept me on the basis of my minor in psychology? Bwahahahahahaha.
Oh! The other thing I realized when I memorized these words (and I have always hated having to memorize stuff--in school, I could do it, but I loathed spending the energy on it): my brain made a story/picture of it: a fish descended into the ocean riding upright on a bungee cord, past a cartoon Volkswagen driving up an underwater mountain, to a diver sitting crosslegged, floating in the water in front of his computer (with bubbles coming up from it). Pan right, and there's an iguana peeking out of an underwater cave (except it looks like a salamander, so he won't drown; and I guess he would also tolerate salt water), and then a teacup and plate float up to the surface, and the bubble pops, and the picture's gone. In college, when I took an exam, I would sit at my desk and look up and to the left and could "see" the page with the information on it. If I could see what the page looked like--the images on the page, for instance, or the color of the graph--then I could find the information I needed. It was nothing like photographic memory, though--I didn't see the whole page as if it were a photograph in front of me. There were just clues to the page that contained the information.
OK. I just realized this is of interest only to me. I try to avoid posts like this because, really, what's the point? The point *was* that I began this hoping there's someone out there who loves to think about this stuff and will share some memory ideas/stories/theories, just because it's interesting. Yes?
This is one of those posts that may well be interesting to maybe two other people on the planet--no, I have no idea which two those may be, but I'm guessing there aren't many more than that. Still, if it's useful to even one other somebody, that's OK. I wanted to show how I'm altering a tunic that was almost cool but not quite--how this is something you can do with almost no real sewing skills and no sewing machine. In truth, it's one of the posts in my campaign to show y'all how easy it is to make a wardrobe of clothes you love. No, it's not quick: it's time-consuming. But it's not difficult: anyone can do it.
OK. That said, here we go. The tunic was OK--it was a nice Flax dress but a boring color. Paler orange, I think. I bought it from the resale shop and dyed it a deeper orange:
I figured out what I wanted to do to it and wrote a note and pinned it on; as you might imagine, there are rather a lot of projects lined up in The Voodoo Cafe, and there's no way I, with my horrid memory--
[Oooh! I've got to write a post about memory--be sure to check back shortly, because it's an amazing thing, this revelation.]
--anyway: there's no way I can keep track of what I meant to do to each one without trying each one on once again and looking at it in the mirror and then going, "Oh, yeah." So I pin on notes to myself.
On this one, the sleeves were too long--I don't like having to roll up sleeves because they don't stay rolled up, and those tab-and-button things that hold up rolled-up sleeves just irritate me, both because I don't like them and, physically, because they usually hit right in the crease of your elbow and just bug you when you bend your arm. The neckline was too high--I don't like necks up around my throat. And the length was dowdy. I wanted to wear it over jeans and not have it be hanging down around my knees. A little below mid-thigh is good.
So I tried it on and pinned it where I wanted to cut it. Because I'm going to sew on a band, rather than turn it up and hem it, I didn't have to allow for turned-under edges.
So I whacked it off. Now, at this point I take stuff to the sewing machine and stitch right inside the cut edge so the linen won't ravel, but you don't have to do that. I toss everything in the washing machine and don't want to have to re-do it down the line. If you don't have a sewing machine, you could skip this part. I don't know if the banding alone will keep it from raveling--I've never tried it. Worth a try, though, right?
You know I hate measuring stuff, so I just fold the garment in half, matching up the side seams, and cut both sides at once, in one fell swoop. Or swell foop, as my mother would say. I try it on and tweak it. None of the cuts are measured, though.
I wanted the bottom to be assymetrical--longer in the back and on the sides. Some day I'll gnash my teeth because nothing I own is symmetrical. Maybe not, though. Maybe I'll still like it in 20 years.
OK, now for the banding. This is the Alabama Chanin-style cotton jersey band treatment, and here's how I do it. I have a collection of thrifted t-shirts. This one I had tossed into a hot pink/fuchsia dye bath the last time I dyed stuff. Lay it on your cutting grid and try to edge it up and much as possible. But don't sweat it--t-shirts are going to do their own thang, and there's no point ironing them or obsessing about getting them to lie exactly. This isn't rocket surgery. Nothing has to be Perfect.
Cut off the bottom hem. Save it for yard stuff--tying up plants, training limbs, grooming vines.
My plastic ruler is about an inch and a half wide, so I cut all the strips that wide, laying the ruler at the edge of the fabric and using the other side as the guide. I always cut extra strips, more than I think I'll need, just in case, and I save the extra pieces in a bag with all the other extra bits for some future project.
After you cut the strips, take them to the ironing board.
Lay each one out flat, wrong side up.
Fold it in half and press with a hot iron.
Then roll it up like this. Now, it won't stay folded as you iron it--it will unfold itself. But you've got the pressed fold, and you re-fold it as you roll it up. Pin the end and bag it up, ready to go for when you want to sit down and pin it in place.
When you're ready to add the banding, fit the cut edge of the garment into the fold of the banding and pin it in place. Choose your floss color--I think I'll use a slightly-darker orange on this but haven't decided yet--this is where I am this morning:
You'll sew the banding with any stitch you like: if it were jersey, instead of linen, you'd want to make sure to use a stretch stitch. But linen isn't going to stretch, so it doesn't matter. I use the Cretan stitch because I love it, and you can see my sad little video of that here (I need to make a better, clearer video of the process. It's on my list of Things to Do Eventually. But it's useful only to other lefties, anyway)
OK. So now I'm doing the stitching, and I'll come back and show it again when I'm finished. Let me know if you have any questions~~
Whoa. This turned into more of a rant than even *I* anticipated. Sorry about that, but it's on my mind, obviously.
I used to take pride in "shopping local," never mind that the lack of an adverb there makes my skin twitch. You know, like "travel lite," or "drive friendly."
Never mind. You can see where that was going: grammar rant.
But this isn't about that. This is another rant entirely, and I've been trying to keep from doing it, but goodlordalmighty, I get ticked.
So: I used to try to buy everything here in Midland, even if it was from a big box store: I figured it was helping the local economy, contributing sales tax, helping employ the people who worked there. All of that. I wanted Midland and Midlanders to do well. I live here. I don't work here, but never mind that.
But no more. Now I buy everything I can online, and I'm not ashamed of that. Not one damn bit.
Why? Because Midland worries me, and here's why. If you go Google "Midland, Texas," you're going to find a ton of stuff about the boom, the economy, the unemployment rate. In December, it had the lowest unemployment rate in the entire US. The median income is in the top handful of cities in the country (some sources say it's #2, but I'm tired of trying to check for the most recent stats). It's booming, and although there has always been a boom-and-bust cycle, "experts" predict that frakking is going to keep this one going for another 20 years or so.
Because so many people here are making so much money--obscene amounts of money (The EGE has had people tell him exactly that: that they cannot believe the amount of money they're making)--the attitude is that if you're NOT making tons of money, you're a slacker. Because The People Who Matter are getting wealthier by the day--by the hour--everyone else is trying to benefit, too. So gas prices are higher, food prices are higher, home prices are higher. Rent has tripled and quadrupled. In one case, a low-rent apartment complex was sold (at a great profit, I'm sure), and the residents--many of them on fixed incomes--were told to vacate. Except they couldn't afford to move anywhere else. A news story recently explained that one reason they can't get new young teachers to come to Midland (to replace those who are retiring or those whose husbands are making a ton of money (so they don't have to work) or those who have gone to the oilfield (lots of The EGE's former (male) co-workers) is that new young teachers can't afford the exorbitant rents, even if they could find an apartment, which they can't. So they don't come here. See how it goes?
When you read about all this stuff in the newspaper (which I avoid but can't totally), what they say is, "Midlanders can afford it," in this smug, self-satisfied kind of way, like that's a mark of pride, as if having money somehow makes Midland something more than anywhere else.
[Oh! Let me insert here that Midland may, indeed, have hope for being something more than it has been in the past: both high schools here have hired new head boys' basketball coaches, and both of them are--omigod--African American. Yes! Now, where you come from, this may not be a big deal, but, honeys, let me tell you: it's a big deal here. There has never (I asked The EGE last night just to make sure) been a black head coach of a boys' team at either of the two high schools. Ever. (There are people who still say that there will never, ever be a black head football coach in Midland, Texas, by gawd. Imagine them looking just the teensiest bit like George Wallace standing on the steps in 1963). When I asked, The EGE said, "At Carver," and I scoffed. It hardly counts: while there used to be a Carver High School, it closed down in the 60s, when Midland started being hauled kicking and screaming into the 20th century and toward, you know, weird-ass stuff like "integration."
Bless its little cotton-picking heart.]
Oops: side rant! Sorry.
So Midland is rich, and people here believe everyone who matters is rich, and if you're somehow not rich, well: it's your own fault, you lazy fool. They periodically run an article on how gasoline prices are higher here than in other Texas cities, and they quote someone who says, "Midlanders can afford it." They say the same about rent, home prices, blah, blah, blah.
But here's the deal: while they're all smug about their success and are dissing anyone who isn't involved in The Oil Business, what they're forgetting is the people who make the city work. No, not the mayor and city councilmen and business leaders. Not those people. I mean the ones you don't want to be without: the police officers and trash collectors (and if you don't think trash collectors are vital, you've never had a hot summer day when they didn't make it around to empty the dumpsters). The teachers (even if you're sending your kid to private schools, they still have to have teachers) and the substitutes you have to have to fill in for the teachers who left and went to the oil field and for whom you can't find replacements because new teachers can't come here because THEY CAN'T AFFORD IT. The EGE could clone himself several times and still sub every single day. When he does take a day off, teachers and office staff text him and ask him if he can come in to help out.
The garbage wasn't collected for a while last summer, and when I called to check, guess what? They were short-handed because--all together now--so many of the workers had Gone to The Oil Field.
Do you see how it's going? So The People Who Matter grouse about the crowded bars and restaurants and the bad service and lack of good tables, and the reason these things are common is because so many of the people who worked in the bars and restaurants have Gone to The Oil Field. There's a vicious circle, and one result is that regular people get gouged. On rent, on gas prices, on everything. Regular, non-oil-business people aren't even an afterthought here.
So once upon a time I thought it was important to support the local economy and buy stuff from stores here. But when I recently had to buy embroidery floss from an independent shop and discovered it cost twice what it does in Michael's and more than it costs--with shipping!--to order it, well. Frankly, I'd rather support the economy in some other, struggling town somewhere than contribute to this attitude we've got going on here, that money is everything and that anyone without it is of no consequence and that having it makes us special, above the concerns of everyday, non-rich people and that everyone here can afford whatever anyone wants to charge for anything. Anything at all.
[Another side rant: Back when we first got married and Midland was a fraction of the size it is today, The EGE knew almost everyone in town. Everywhere we went, he stopped and visited. People were friendly--you'd walk down the street and nod and speak to everyone you passed. But now? Now it's full of people who aren't from here, who didn't grow up greeting strangers and opening doors for each other and stepping out of the way in the aisles of stores. It's also ugly: there's no water, so everything is dead. Trees are dying, grass has been abandoned. The streets are full of holes because there are so many trucks everywhere, and there are wrecks: people are dying on the highways, mostly from collisions with trucks. Big trucks. Speeding trucks.]
But this is progress. People have jobs, and that's a good thing. People are doing well (the ones who aren't getting killed on the roads or maimed in the oil fields), and many of them are generous and kind people, helping others and contributing to things they believe are good. Yes, money is important. You have to have it to buy the things you need, and I know there are lots of people in lots of other towns who would be more than happy to put up with the woes plaguing Midland just so they and their friends and families could have jobs, even if they had to live in one of the Man Camps that line the highway outside of town. I'm not saying that money is bad, and I do, indeed, know that Midland is lucky to have work for people, never mind that it has nowhere for them to live.
What I'm saying is that money isn't everything. It allows you to pay for the things you have to have to survive, and that's a good thing. But when it becomes the only thing--the only thing that matters in a town where there's not much else--then there's something amiss. I have conversations with people--one in particular who was instrumental in spearheading two of the most recent huge municipal projects--and the level of self-congratulatory smugness is overpowering.
All of this to explain why I shop online now. I buy beads and floss, fabric and books, underwear and coffee, all from my computer. It's not just that the local attitude irritates me, it's also that, frankly, I'm leery of leaving my house, getting into my vehicle, and getting out on the streets. It's crazy out there--the danger of driving in Midland is one of the main topics of conversation and of news stories, where they're keeping a running tally of traffic deaths.
I don't hate Midland. It's as much a home as I've ever had, even though I've always been an outsider because I wasn't born here and didn't get here until I was 14. I worry about it, though. Most people who have lived here for any real length of time are worried about it. But just now I stopped and had a thought (whoa): maybe things will change for the better. Maybe Midland will become more diverse, less the ultra-conservative, ultra-religious (meaning: Christian, because, really, there are no other religions, not here), ultra-redneck place it's always been. We're going to have two black coaches--not just coaches, but Head Coaches. Maybe someday a Democrat will be mayor (oh, my: I made myself snort right there). Maybe there will be a synagog, or a mosque, or a Buddhist temple (I'm not holding my breath for those, either). Maybe growth will eventually mean an expanded way of looking at the world, not as a place where We've Got it Right, and Y'all Need to Take Note, but as a place where there are other ways of looking at life that aren't all about amassing as much money as possible and figuring out how to spend it as ostentatiously as possible. Where one of those buildings down town could house an artists' co-op, if "co-op" weren't a bad word, you know: one of Them Commie Ideas. (There actually was one here once, long ago, but no one wanted to work it.)
OK. End of rant. End of whinging. Like I said, I know Midland is lucky to have work for people, so don't whinge at me about that, please.
And now I'm off to get the walk in before it gets hot: the high for today is supposed to be 104, and it's supposed to be over 100 pretty much every day for the next week: the beginning of the long, hot, oh-so-very-dry West Texas Summer.
I hope they gave the trash collectors a healthy raise.
I showed you this bolero when I "finished" it, which I think was last summer. I did it The Real Way, the way it's done in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Sort of. As closely as I could, given how tought it is for me to follow a pattern and stuff.
The body has two layers; the sleeves, one. It was back before I had collected a lot of t-shirts, before I started dyeing my own cotton jersey, so I didn't have a lot of the color green I wanted to use. I used three different t-shirts for this: one for the sleeves and two for the body. The under layer, which you can see in the cut-out parts, was a camo t-shirt that I thrifted ONLY for this bolero: I loathe camo, and the t-shirt was printed, not dyed: it was white on the wrong side. I'm not even sure what I was thinking when I bought it besides, "Ooooh! Bright green!"
I bought a fern stencil and mixed my own dark green paint. Do you know how to get that funky acid green/chartreuse/avocado? Bright green and golden yellow, or already-mixed lime, plus a tiny, tiny bit of red. The red is what makes it that funky, acidy color. But you have to do just tiny, tiny bits at a time or you'll end up with mud. There are places on the stencils where you can see red blotches, and that's OK, but I did NOT like the places where it smeared and looked like faded blood stains.
So I followed the directions, something I hate doing, and sewed the layers together with craft and button thread, trimmed the inside--just like in the book. Here are the photos we took whenI thought I was done:
Below you can see some of the paint stain in the upper center. Looks just like old bloodstains. I would have been better off not trying to rinse it out.
I wore it a couple times but just never bonded with it. I don't know why: too flimsy? Too boring? I think, in truth, it was that it was too much like what anyone else would do, so what was the point? I even thought about selling it, but there were those red stains, which were creepy, even though *I* knew what they were. I hated that I wasn't wearing it, but you know the rule: Only Clothes You Love.
So a couple weeks ago I pulled it out and started fixing it, and here it is. Now, what look like red sequins here and there? They're not--it's just a reflection. Everything is green. I didn't dye it--it's the same color it was--just different lighting.
I left the sleeves alone except for beading the band at the bottom of each one. I wanted to see how I'll like this so I'll know what I can do on future versions.
My absolute favorite part of this is the Kantha-like stitching, which came about as a complete accident. The stenciled parts that were cut out were only one layer, and they were too flimsy to bead without stretching out of shape. I decided to reinforce them with another layer of fabric on the inside of the body. Now, of course, I have a lot more green fabric, so it was easy to cut some that was large enough. I thought I was just going to stitch around the cut-outs and then trim away the excess on the inside, but once I started stitching, I realized I loved the texture it was taking on, that wrinkly, kind of wavy texture of Kantha. So I kept going. But you can see from these photos of the inside that I hadn't planned on doing this, and so the inside inserted piece isn't really large enough and doesn't go all the way to the edges. This would seem to be the sort of thing that would drive me insane, right? But no! I LOVE this. I love the ragged, handmade look to it. I love that it's obvious it was made by hand. I love that it looks mended--I'm totally into Mending here lately--I stumbled on a Flickr group yesterday with photos of mended stuff and nearly lost my mind--more about that in another post. Or two.
See how funky this is? I can feel my mother cringing in horror--and in disbelief that I would even show anybody this "mess" (I think that would be the word she'd use.) I love it--I keep opening it up and petting it. There's something in there--some discovery of an appealing texture, I think--that's captivated me. I've got all these ideas! But only one of me and only two hands and only 24 hours in a day. Aieeeeeee~~
As I've said before about these boleros: they start out as thin, flimsy, insubstantial things made from cotton jersey, and for a while, you think you're wasting your time working on them. And then, somewhere in there, as you stitch and appliqué and bead and embroider, it begins to take on substance and heft and shape, and it's just fabulous. I can *feel* this happening--I never know when it will happen, but one day in the process I'll be working on it, and something begins to happen, where it becomes something its own self. Hard to describe, but it's lovely, and it always makes me really happy. With this one, it filled my head with things I want to try--I got a tiny bit carried away last night as I was falling asleep (doing that thing I told y'all about earlier this week where I consciously think about projects as I'm dozing off) and imagined lengthening the sides and back of one of these and flaring it out, cape-like, and doing this stitch all over every single inch of it. Thankyoujesus that I fell asleep and, when I woke up, realized what an insane idea it truly was. Gack.
So here it is before:
And here it is, after. (No, I didn't re-dye it; it's the same color, just different lighting--the photos were taken months apart).
I got a note from someone, a really nice note about various things, and in it they mentioned that they don't read the blog much any more because they're not interested in clothing. That's cool--I know most people aren't, and I'm sure lots of people have wandered away--or fled screaming down the street--but what I'm hoping is that you don't think of these posts as much about Making Clothes as you do about How The Creative Mind Works--showing you what I'm thinking and why I tried what I tried, and making you think about the way your own creative mind works. I don't know about anyone else, but there are few things more interesting to me than how people's creatives brains ponder the things they do, the starts and stops, the experiments, the what-ifs, the failures, the re-do's, the exhilaration of discovery. Man--it just doesn't get much better than that, does it? It doesn't matter what you're interested in; it matters how your own particular brain works. I don't make jewelry, and I have no interest in working with metal, but I LOVE reading Keith LoBue's posts about how he created something--I love his telling what he was thinking and how he tried one thing and set it aside and tried something else. That's what I'm going for here--the creative process. I have to do it with what I know and love, though--it would be pretty lame if I tried to fake it with painting or sculpting or something. I've tried those things in the past and tried to write about them, but it's not where my passion lies, and it shows in the telling.
So thanks for coming by and looking--it's so much fun to share stuff when I finish it. I wear it, sure--I wore it the other night--and sometimes someone will notice and ask questions, but often, no. This just isn't the kind of place where people wear stuff like this or have any interest in it or even in making stuff--most of them don't much care about making anything but lots and lots of money.
And let me quit right now before I go into yet another rant about what's happening to our little city. Yikes.
I've had yet another of those conversations in which someone tells me they're "a little bit OCD," and then laughs and rolls their eyes in a "what can you do?" kind of way.
[No, I am not talking about any of y'all. I mean real-life, face-to-face conversations, and, honeys, they are legion.]
I laugh, too, and nod and say, "Oh, yeah," in that knowing way we all do, but what I'm thinking is, "Bless your heart. You need a hobby."
Thanks to Monk, The Obsessive Detective, and Melvin Udall in As Good as It Gets, OCD went mainstream, moving up from an obscure anxiety disorder to one claimed fondly by, well, gee: just about everyone you talk to. (In reality, only about 2-3% of the adult population has it, even after they realized it's much more common than once believed.) Teenaged girls seem especially fond of claiming to be A Little Bit OCD.
I think it's like people who claim to be "on the spectrum" of autism/Asperger's, latching onto some romantic view a la Rainman. I haven't talked to anyone who claimed that, but I've heard it's increasingly common, something I can't imagine. If you have friends and family members working to raise an autistic child, you're not going to blithely claim that your lack of excellent social skills springs from the same source.
But what I want to say here, what I want to tell people but don't, because it would be rude, and, really, there's no point--you don't change people's minds in a conversation--is this: Just because you like to have all your shoes facing the same way in your closet, or because you have 12 pencils neatly sharpened and sitting point-up in a cup in the right-hand corner of your desk does not mean you're A Little Bit OCD. It's not about fixing your dinner plate so none of the portions touch each other or always having a pack of gum in your shirt pocket. It's not about taking two showers a day or always washing your hands when you come into the house.
Trust me, it's not. It might include those things, but that's only the tiniest tip of it.
You may be a perfectionist, or you may be really neat. You may be an organizational wizard or just really picky, but you are not A Little Bit OCD.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not about cute little quirks and things you trot out to entertain strangers at cocktail parties. It's not about how you organize your purse or your car, your closets or your desk. It is an anxiety disorder, and like anything related to anxiety, it is not fun. Or cute or quirky or entertaining. It's about sitting in the driveway of your house, car packed for a vacation you've been looking forward to for months, bursting into tears because you have to get out one more time and unlock the door and go back in the house to make sure--really make sure this time--that you didn't leave the stove on. Or the oven. The electric blanket. The fan. Anything that, in your absence, would surely catch fire, burn down the house, kill the cats and destroy everything you've ever created, all because *you* didn't check one. last. time. Because it's your job to make sure things are safe, and you failed.
It's about anxiety, issues of control, fear, uncertainty.
It's about being a kid with elaborate bedtime rituals that no one understands because you don't, either. They think you're just postponing bedtime, but what you're doing is working to guarantee the nighttime safety of everyone you love, making sure everything is Just So so you can finally relinquish control and fall into unconsciousness for a few hours without disaster befalling your family.
People scoff about this sense of control, saying things like, "Oh, so you think you're God, do you?" or say, cheerily, "Let go and let God!" as if control is about power and might instead of a huge, flattening sense of overwhelming responsibility. (Those people might be surprised to know that one manifestation of OCD can be extreme religiosity (scrupulosity, although there's some dispute about diagnosis)).
Why do I care, you ask? What difference does it make to me whether or not half the people I talk to claim to be A Little Bit OCD? Because: There was a guy who worked with my husband one summer, and I'd go to meet The EGE at lunch, and we'd sit in the parking lot talking, and this guy would come back from lunch and park his car and get out and lock the door and then test it, and then he'd go to each of the other doors and test them, and then he'd start to walk away. And then he'd turn around and go back to his car and check the driver's door again, and then he'd go to each of the other doors and check them. He was a strange guy, seemingly intelligent but withdrawn and quiet and not happy, and watching him every day at lunch, I felt like crying. I was willing to bet he had no idea what was going on--this was back when OCD was still considered extremely rare and there were very few books on the subject (I know: I hunted down all of them)--or that there were ways to deal with it to make life easier.
And I've seen people since then, people whose behavior was obvious to me, and I wonder, "Do they know what's going on?" and then I think about how it would feel if they *did* know they had OCD, and they were working to deal with the constant anxiety and the disruption to their daily lives, and maybe they were late to work because they had to go back five times and check the lock on the front door, and their report is going to be late because they have to proofread it one more time, even though they've read it 17 times so far, and now they're sitting there at lunch having a conversation with someone who laughs and says, "I always color-code my shirts in the closet; I'm A Little Bit OCD."
Imagine how that would feel: it's controlling your life, and this person thinks it's cute.
I'm lucky because I figured out what it was when I was in my early 20s. But I can remember--as well as I can remember anything--what it was like being a little kid with elaborate bedtime rituals, having no clue what I was trying to do and infuriating my parents, who just wanted me to go to bed already. The worries, the obsessions, being constantly on alert. Being afraid that if I didn't do something just exactly right or count something to just the right number, I'd come home from school and my dog would be dead. Or my mother would get sick. Or my father would go on a business trip and never come back.
So, yeah. Embrace your quirks--your love of order, your attention to detail, your insistence on matchy-matchiness--but don't trivialize a disorder that makes lives--especially the lives of lots of unknowing kids--miserable. There are a variety of ways to make it better--behavior modification, medication--and it doesn't have to control your life. The key is knowing what it is, getting an accurate diagnosis, and that's a lot tougher when everyone you meet is saying, "Oh, yeah, I'm A Little OCD."
Whew. Sorry to rant, but thanks for listening, sweeties~~XO
You'll notice there's no shopping cart here. There's nothing to buy and nobody trying to get your money. You have to go off-site to buy my books, in fact. There are no ads, awards, badges or pleas to give me money in a tacky little "tip jar." Relax, sit back, and enjoy your time here~~