Wednesday, May 30, 2012

He wrote back twice

and has amusing things to say about Pluto.  And likes October better than May.  And asks questions.

I am officially intrigued.


It's not that I'm addicted, per se.  It's that sending or not sending messages acts as positive reinforcement towards sending or not sending more.  So silence begets silence, and chatter begets this.  I try to forget about the numbers.  It's just depressing.

I send people money and they send me things!

Am wearing skirts #3 and 4 (3 is a petticoat, so goes underneath).  Grown-up bag arrived in mail, is just as I'd hoped.  A little more on the green side of teal than I'd pictured, but lovely nonetheless.  I have moved my things into it.  I still feel a little self-conscious.  Like, the bag makes me feel FANCY, even though it's barely even fancy.  It also came with a shipment of sock yarn in greens & green/gold/browns for the blanket.  I re-calculated the blanket-knitting time, and with the new, smaller gauge garter stitch it will take me more than a year of continuous knitting.  Which means I'm going to try and see if I can manage polyamorous knitting for a while.  (I hear that communication is the key.)


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Although I can't decide on the film shirt...

(It's the notes I'd write on the envelope when sending out film for processing.)

Note to self: buy freezer paper and a squirt bottle on the way home.

T-shirts with slogans do not fit in my new grown-up work clothes plan.  I agonized about that for, like, an HOUR or something.  Then I decided that I want all my shirts (and I want them ALL THE TIME) and I will just have to re-write my rules to include them.  They're my rules, I can re-write them whenever I want. 

The thing to keep in mind is, my first semester of teaching, I would go to class in pajamas.  (In college, I went to class wearing a bathrobe.)  My starting line is not just below most people's, it's on another planet entirely.  It's not like I'm wearing anything actually offensive or even mildly controversial.  The most obnoxious slogan I have is I respectfully disagree.  They are all work-safe, they're just not exactly business casual.  And I'm not ready to give up on them yet.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

5 skirts in 5 days

Other recent acquisitions: lawn chair, sunglasses, Angry Orchard hard cider, lemonade, and smoked salmon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Skirt tutorial (3 of 3)


Changing measurement D will alter how poofy the skirt is, especially at the top.  Stiffer fabrics need less gather to achieve poofiness.  If you are working with a stiff fabric (like my translucent glitter fairy fabric), you might want to subtract a few inches from measurement D so that you don't end up in a tutu.  Unless you want a tutu, in which case, add a lot of inches to D.

Changing the ratio between D and E mostly changes the way the skirt acts while dancing.  If the panels are mostly square, the skirt will look sort of like this when spinning:

If your panels are more extremely trapezoidal, the skirt will look more like this:

Also, it will show a lot more thigh when spinning.

The heavier the fabric, the more momentum it gains when spinning, and the more dramatic effect it will have.

The longer the skirt, the more difference is needed between the top and bottom circumference to get the same effect.  I am 5' tall, and wear short skirts.  A taller person might multiply A by 2 instead of 1.5 to get an equally poofy skirt.

This tutorial assumes that you have time to plan a pattern before buying fabric, or have enough fabric that it isn't a concern.  If you have limited fabric, there are a few places where it is easy to substitute a matching/contrasting fabric.  The waistband can be done in another color.  A very broad band at the bottom could be added in another color.  And the next tutorial will be about planning a pattern based on a limited amount of fabric.

Skirt tutorial (2 of 3)

PART IV: Assembly

9.  Take the smaller waistband piece, with the fold at the top, and the open end at the bottom, and put it over the top of the body so that the top 1/2" of the body is sandwiched inside the waistband.  You will not be gathering any of the body yet, so it will just look like this:

10.  Sew two horizontal lines across the waistband piece so that you have three even channels.

11.  Cut three 6" pieces of elastic.  Thread each piece through one of the channels you just made, and sew into place.

12. Pin the remaining top edge of the body into the open end of the remaining waistband piece.  This step is very similar to step 9, except that this time you will be gathering the body as you pin it in place.  The longer waistband piece should overlap the smaller one by a little bit, to cover up the unfinished edges.

13.  Sew the pinned pieces together.


Skirt tutorial (part 1 of 3)

(Please note that few of these numbers require adjustments for seam or hem allowances.  This is in part because most of the measurements are not critical; if the bottom hem of your skirt is 116" around instead of 120" it won't look any different.  Also, as in the last tutorial, this is a general explanation of the pattern, rather than a true step-by-step.)

The skirt is made up of two main parts, the body of the skirt and the waistband.

PART I:  Basic measurements

1.   Measure around your waist.  Decide how long you want your skirt to be.  Write down the following numbers:

Measurement A= waist circumference * 2.5
Measurement B= A*1.5
Measurement C= skirt length - 1.5"
Measurement D= A/6
Measurement E= B/6
Measurement F=waist circumference-6"


2.  Cut out six trapezoids with the following dimensions:
Keep in mind the following:  E is the bottom edge of the skirt.  If your fabric is patterned directionally, make sure that all pieces are cut so that the fabric faces the same way.  If your fabric does not have a directional pattern, you can reduce wasted fabric by cutting half of the pieces upside down so that they nestle into each other like this:

Measurements D and E do not need to be exact because the width of the skirt is very forgiving.  The length of the skirt, however, should be a little more precise.  If you are going to do a fold-over hem, you will need to add extra length to measurement C to compensate.  If you are going to use bias tape, you do not need to add anything.

3.  Sew the pieces together into a tube, so that the D sides are all aligned on the top of the tube and the E sides are all aligned on the bottom.  Trim the edges a little to round them out:

4. Hem the bottom edge.

PART III: Waistband

5.  Cut two rectangular pieces like so:

If you don't have a single piece of fabric that is F long, you can piece several together, as long as the final rectangle is F long, the piecing won't negatively affect the look of the skirt.

6.  With the wrong side facing, fold over and iron down 1/2 " of each long side, like so:

7. Fold each piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides facing, so that you now have two pieces that are 2" wide.

8.  Fold in 1/2" on the longer piece, so that all edges are folded, rather than cut.  I also like to iron on interfacing to longer piece.  The sturdier the waistband, the more flat it will stay when worn.  Also note that I did not add any extra allowance for the length lost in this step.  The skirt is designed to have about an inch of negative ease.

(continued in next post)

Interview Pants

For the first two days after my "grown-up clothes" decision, I spent a lot of money (ordering a grown-up bag, and then since I was buying the bag from a yarn store, using my free shipping to order yarn, of course, and getting more fabric for skirts that can function as work/play clothes).  But since most of my good skirts either need washing or lengthening, I was still going to work in jeans and t-shirts. 

So this is day one of "stuff I didn't normally wear."  And it doesn't look like much for an outfit post, I realize.  But I'm wearing the gray interview pants (in a size 16W) that 1) have been too small to wear for a long time, and 2) are interview pants

(I am, obviously, still not invested enough to take real outfit photos.  But in a couple weeks I'm heading out to Chicago with a car full of ALL THE CLOTHES and Fenna can take real ones.  Perhaps even with me smiling and/or looking at the camera.)

Monday, May 21, 2012


Week 1.

Weight, 195 pounds.

Caffeine strike over.  It was distracting; I ended it.

I think I am reaching a changing point in regards to dress and presentation re: looking like a grown-up.  The short version involves drawing lines between work and play.  The longer version involves a kind of zero-sum equation.  Much in the same way that, when I was applying for jobs, I decided that I had a little room to deviate from the Standard Academic Appearance (which, thank god, already has a little room to deviate from Standard Professional Appearance).  I could either have interesting piercings, or overly casual shoes, or blue hair, or slightly disheveled clothes, but not more than one at a time.  If I had blue hair, I needed immaculate clothes, shoes, and standard piercings.  Sort of like spoons, if that's your thing.  I get a limited amount of deviation credits to spend at a time.

Certain things, like being known to be an "artist," and working in the arts, give me permanent extra deviation credits.  I can get away with "eccentric."  Certain things, like Fridays, or school vacations, give me temporary extra credits.  Some credits I use up by virtue of being, always, a little scruffy.  Messy hair, no makeup, non-professional demeanor.  Some deviations, like bright colors, are very little, and only use up half of a credit.  Some deviations, like a purple, sparkly, fairy princess skirt, I don't have the credit for, and can only be used when I'm not at work.  Some things take up more or less credits when combined with other things.   For example, Chucks with jeans, Chucks with skirts. 

It's the kind of math that people do every day, but I've spent most of my life avoiding.  (I never was good at doing my homework.)  It's not an entire overhaul of my closet, because I'm not aiming for professional, I'm aiming for grown-up casual.  T-shirts and jeans are acceptable in the pre-beat-to-hell stage.  I have a few skirts that already fit the requirements, and a few in that with an extra 2" length would work perfectly.  I need a better bag, and a better pair of every day shoes.  I'm thinking this bag (photo for size reference):

But in this color:

And I'm thinking of finding a pair of solid, comfy, mary janes. 

On the other hand, I'm also thinking that the possible overhaul of this space isn't going to happen.  I had thought, for a minute, that I wanted to clean up the mess here.  I was looking back at posts that function as very, very, small works, rather than chatter, and I wanted to go back to that.  I wanted a blog that was beautiful.  But I would miss having the freedom to not be beautiful.  I would miss having a space that doesn't edit for quality, that just is, without evaluation.

So this is week 1: Changes.  And not.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Also, I will be cleaning, reorganizing, and redecorating this office.

I might be seriously re-thinking the nature of this space, here, online.  What it is, what I want it to be.  In the meanwhile, as I was going through my mail (and resolving a newly-discovered dental insurance dispute), I found this in my wallet:

It's up


(Reminding me that I really should unearth and update my CV before I start to forget...)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New shoe plans.

These, in silver as shown, but with a lower, thicker, heel:

And these:

But covered in this:

I have discovered, after a few dances on the black shoes, that I am slightly wobblier, but essentially okay.  I need a little more practice, but I don't feel like it's some bizarre form of human experimentation.  And the floodgates open.  Shoes!

Please keep in mind,

This is day two with no caffeine.

Yesterday was easy.  Yesterday was also day one of getting to sleep in an extra hour in the morning.

Today is a bad night's sleep and trying to substitute sugar for caffeine.  Orange juice and apple pie.  Not a good long-term plan (the pie, at least) but I will make exceptions for a short weaning period.

I looked through the shoes the ballroom studio sells.  They have customizable heels and a million colors.  As in, I can put my super wide, low, heels on a strappy shoe in wide sizes with fuchsia glitter.  (There would be more capitalizing and exclamation points, but, caffeine.  You'll have to put them in yourself; I haven't the energy.)

Other non-exclamation-pointed events: I now have a fence for my stolen goods in Skyrim.  And I don't have to give up any Skyrim time tonight for silly things I love like dancing.  All Skyrim. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Things I am going to do on vacation:

sleep (in my backyard)
read (in my backyard)
save the galaxy

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I know.

I know I am acting like a child.  I can't do what I want when I want it, and so I am throwing a tantrum.  I know it, and I hate that, too.


I want a fucking break.  I want two days, in a row, to myself.  And I don't get one, not yet, and I hate it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

These are my legs.

These are my legs with my next tattoo blocked out.

(The squiggly lines are placeholders for someone who can draw a pretty field with a tree. And a moon. And stars.  In color.)

I have a consultation on Friday.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Two stories about not wearing clothes

1.  When playing KOTOR, I un-equip my party every time I go back to my ship.  That way if I take Jolee with me instead of Bastila the next time I go out, I don't have to worry that my one extra Jedi Knight Robe is stuck on the wrong Jedi.  What this means in practice, is that everyone on my ship is in their underwear.  And what that means is, when I save the galaxy and we are all waving to the crowd and getting awarded Galaxy Savior Awards, most of my party is still in their underwear.

2.  Last week, someone unintentionally ran across naked photos of me online, recognized me, and came up to me to tell me about it.  In context, it was neither surprising nor weird.  But part of me looks at this, without context, and thinks, yeah this is my life.

(continued from previous page)

This is not new.  I am not trying to work out what I believe, I am finally writing it down.  It was eventually going to turn into a soapbox about (gay) marriage, which I believe to be inextricably linked to language, and any discussion of language eventually comes down to this,


I have been thinking about this alternate me, the girl who didn't break up with Andrew between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 1998.  She is only meaningful if by "didn't break up with Andrew," I don't mean "broke up with him a week or two later."  She would have to stay with him for months longer, maybe a year, maybe two, for there to be any noticeable difference.  She would need to be someone who could stay.  She would have needed to lessen the pressure to leave.

I remember very few specific fights.  Instead I think of the conflict between us in broader terms: the difference between what each of us wanted me to be.  Pressure from him was always in the direction of isolation and dependence, but also towards a certain look, a certain demeanor.  So this girl who stayed, she would have tried harder to have that look, that demeanor.  She would have isolated herself from her friends.  She would have really tried, and not just gone through the motions of considering, a transfer to a school in San Diego.

And when she finally left him, a year or two later, in San Diego, she would have had no support system, no friends of her own, working towards a college degree she didn't want, for a life she wasn't suited for.  She would be twenty years old.

The summer after I turned twenty, I had everything I wanted.  I had a boyfriend I loved, friends I loved, I had praise and success and creativity and drive and I didn't have to work very hard for any of it.  And I was abjectly miserable.  The misery was nothing new, but for the first time I realized that I had nothing to blame.  There was nothing I could fix to make myself happy.  I didn't know how to be happy.  And so I ended up sobbing on a street corner in Rome, without the motivation to move in any direction, to help or hurt myself.  Just enough to sit there, unmoving and unhappy.  When I got home, I started taking anti-depressants.  I think they saved my life.  They gave me something else that I could fix—my brain itself—which didn't work right on its own, but with the right additions, could be persuaded to.

At twenty years old, she would have had plenty of things in her life to fix.  And so she might have spent another few years fixing them.  She might still be fixing them. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cleaning out my desktop

I have an "untitled" text document on my desktop where I keep pieces of word-things I'm thinking about.  Usually by now I'd have finished or deleted what I've got, but neither seems likely to happen any time soon, and it's getting unwieldy.  So I'm putting it up anyway.


I like to call myself "a deconstructionist, a post-post-modernist, and a sex-positive feminist."   I like the way it sounds. A glib way of both acknowledging and dismissing my academic allegiances. I am fond of self-dismissal.

I don't think that words mean things. Or rather, I think that the relationship between words and meanings is infinitely complicated and ever-changing. I think that dictionaries provide flawed but useful guides to meaning, rather than answers. I don't think that "meaning" is a fixed and singular state.  I don't think that anything is fixed and singular, really.  Absolutes are useful concepts, but not actually attainable in real life.


I am trying to write a story about this moment, when Andrew pulled out a velvet box from his pocket and asked me to marry him, and I know that we were sitting on some rocks in La Jolla, and could see the ocean, and it was sunny but not hot, and he was wearing jeans and I was sitting on his lap and it was after I'd gone to college, but before the end of my sophomore year, and I am trying to put events into place, and I can't remember.

When I left for college, I had a boyfriend. I was not engaged, not yet. At some point, I went home and came back with a ring. I spent my first summer in San Diego. I worked at my father's machine shop, and went to Andrew's house after work. I ate a lot of Jamba Juice. I was always on a diet. I wanted to look good for him.  I remember these things, but they don't tell me what I want to know.

I am piecing together facts that I remember to try and figure out the rest. It's like those logic puzzles from school where you get a list of clues and try to figure out which of six hypothetical children is the tallest.

1. I know that when I began my sophomore year, Andrew and I were together.
2. I know that Andrew & I broke up before I came home for Christmas.

Therefore, I know that we broke up during the first semester of sophomore year.

3. I know that I got engaged in San Diego.
4. I know that I spent at least some time at home wearing my ring, but not telling anyone.
4a. However, I don't think that I spent the entire summer with a ring—going to work every day—it would have gotten in the way, trying to type with it on my finger backwards, the diamond pointing towards my palms.

Therefore, I probably got engaged either near the end of summer, or during Thanksgiving break.

5. I know that I told my parents we were engaged while in Baltimore and then broke up with him before I the next time I went home.
6. I think that Andrew was in Baltimore when I told my parents that we were engaged.

Therefore, it is unlikely that I got engaged during Thanksgiving. (He would not have visited between Thanksgiving and Christmas break.)

Therefore, I probably got engaged during the summer.

Therefore, I probably was 18 years old, not 19.

It bothers me, that I don't remember this, that I don't know the answer, I only know the equations.

Nonfiction is a funny thing. I'm still learning the idiosyncrasies. Back, way back, in my previous writerly incarnation, even my first person poetry was fictional. I was Lot, or Persephone, or a host of nameless women with husbands and histories. So this mining of my life for material is a strange and new experience for me.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Apparently not.

Yeah.  I'm still looking over everything I do and judging, I still can barely stand anything.

Also, shoes.

They were out of silver glitter.  So I am getting these instead, in silver leather, and I will add spray-glitter and possibly rhinestones.


It's funny.  I think I've been getting better, but I've been reluctant to say so.  I like the freedom of saying no I can't, and the excuse to shed all responsibilities, to myself, to others, to feed my id and shut out my super-ego.  So if I admit that I did, actually, weigh myself this morning (189 pounds), and that I am no longer convinced that the President's Club Event on Saturday will be a complete fiasco, and that I'm pretty sure that I can hold everything together for another three days, then I have to admit that I am capable of calling people back, and engaging in disagreements without exploding, and sticking to my diet, and everything else I've put on hold.  And that's scary.  I don't want to be capable yet.

So I'm changing the subject.

The Graphic Design workshop put together a journal of graduating MFAs.  It's an amazing body of work, and I'm proud and awed to have worked with these people, for the short time that we were together.  One of the questions asked in the interview section is "What advice would you give to incoming/prospective students?"

This is my answer:

You will make false starts.  You will make mistakes.  Some of your ideas will be brilliant, and some of them will be terrible, and you won't always know which is which until you try them out.  The great thing about group shows is that you don't need a finished, fully-realized body of work to start submitting.  Start early.  Your work will change in ways you would never have believed.  Trust your instincts, even when they don't make any sense.  Don't let your ideas of who you think you are get in the way of what you want to do.  Eat a George's cheeseburger.

And that is enough cliché for today.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I don't know what to do.


And this is just the color chart.  ONE of the color charts.  Close toed shoes!  With straps!  And wide sizes!  And wide, low, heels! 

I JUST bought a new pair of dance shoes.  I bought two, actually, and I'll have to pay to return the first pair.  There is NO POINT in getting another dozen shoes in varying straps and colors.


(Except I'm getting a pair in silver glitter.)