Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Note to self (skirts #17 and #18)

There must be either belt loops or elastic.  Failure to add one of the two will result in a desperate need for safety pins.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


I'm pretty sure I started in early 2009, so this is over three years now.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Facebook is probably getting tired of this.

So I thought I'd move my whining over here for a bit:

Extra mushy chicken salad, check.  Giant tub of greek yogurt, check.  Four days worth of canned soup, check.  Constant whining, check.  Guess I'm ready.  Might need more complaining, though.  It doesn't hurt to be over-prepared, right?  I can probably fit a few more complaints in the next fifteen minutes.  WHINE.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Do you know what it's time for?

It's time to absurdly overthink my new crush!

(It seems like so long since I've done this.)

1. He asked me to dance IMMEDIATELY when I came in.  Like, I hadn't had a sip of the water I just put down on the table yet.

2. He was there with his parents, who are visiting from Puerto Rico, where he is from.  He's been here for five years.  I'd been wondering how old he is, and I'm going to guess that he came here for college, which would put him at about 23 or so.

3. Upon further examination, he might be a little less hipster than I thought. 

4. There are women there in tight dresses, the kind one only wears at night, women who look like beer commercials, and some of them can dance, and some of them just totter a little on absurdly high heels, and he doesn't dance with them.  It's not that he isn't dancing with hot women, but he doesn't dance with the beer commercials. 

5.  Maybe it's because his parents were in town, but he seemed to be an odd one out, a little, too.  Which would explain a lot.  I am a safe person to ask to dance.

6. His mother looks latina; his dad looks very anglo.  I wonder if he's culturally a halfie, too.  I'd like that.

7.  When I screw up, and nearly crash into some oblivious person texting at her table, and bite my lip in embarrassment, he laughs, in a good way.  He tries things out, and sometimes it doesn't work, and sometimes it does, and he enjoys it so much.

HSB was there

I am well and truely smitten.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Week 10, belated, and two anecdotes about signaling

1.  I shocked someone last week by telling her my age.  I am assuming, from her reaction, that she thought I was much younger.  (How much, I didn't ask.)  I suppose that this is a sort of compliment, or at least I am supposed to take it as one, otherwise she would have hidden her shock.  And there is some truth to that.  Looking older means I have to acknowledge that I am older, which means that I have less time left, which is an unpleasant truth.  And I am not completely immune to the idea that younger=hotter.

But mostly what I got from that conversation was, this is what I'm talking about.  I haven't been signaling grown-up.  My clothes, my attitude, my behavior, everything about me said, responsibilities?  What?  I eat a lot of ramen, don't own any furniture, and stay up late most nights drinking.  And, to be honest, I own almost no furniture, nothing I couldn't abandon easily if I needed to, I eat food in cardboard boxes, and I still use my bedroom floor as a hamper.  Clean clothes are piled there, and dirty clothes are piled there.  But I don't want to look like I do.

I don't know if I've made enough of a change, really.  I still need to buy shoe stretchers so I can fit my mary janes, and my next set won't arrive until the middle of August at the earliest.  I still haven't given up the graphic tees.  And I'm not sure if I know how to do anything about the non-conscious signals I send, the posture, speech, all of the other markers we use to classify and categorize each other.

2. Planning an outfit in case I see HSB again today.  (I haven't spent the day moving shelving, so hopefully I'll be up for salsa.)  And aside from my usual criteria, like, a skirt that will twirl nicely, I am also specifically looking for something that will signal 'hipster'.  So I go through my list of skirts, and discard most of them for a lack of irony.  Eventually I decide to make a flouncy green polka dot skirt with the leftovers from the A line green polka dot skirt, because polka dots are kitchy and therefore hipster.  And I'm wearing my Iowa City, Conveniently Located shirt.  Because signaling is the thing I can do to separate me from the crowd.  I can't be the hottest or the best dancer, but I can be the girl wearing polka dots at a club, who doesn't fit in and doesn't care.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tonto matters

Back to the old, tired, horse again.  I followed the blog post about Tonto to some other blogs about cultural appropriation (American appropriation of Native American culture, which is, like, the epitome of problematic, hello, genocide!), and I'm still thinking about how much of my intended tattoo is hipster irony, and how much is more than that.  Because it has to be more than that.  It has to be better than that.

I'm not Chinese.  I've soapboxed this to death already.  But the conclusion, "So I'm American," while true, is still overly simplistic.

Because I react to things differently.  Because I feel guilty.  Because, while I have never glommed onto a Chinese person because we had something in common, I have never felt an affinity for someone because they were Chinese, I do gravitate towards Chinese Americans.  I think, hey you know what I mean.  I can roll my eyes and say Asian parents, and we've all experienced it first hand.  We know what it's like to be a particular kind of not-white, we are model minorities, we played the violin or the piano when we were kids.  We have parents that we don't share a culture with.  We think that ramen is a perfectly normal breakfast food. 

In the same way that I assumed that a copy machine was a perfectly normal thing for people to have in their living room because my mother is an accountant, I assumed that everyone made rice in a rice cooker because my mother is Chinese.  We come to consciousness in a world that has only our family in it, whose boundaries are small, and everything that exists is within crying distance.  Eventually, we learn that other people exist, and have lives, and those lives are different from ours, but we keep the memory of that very small world, and it continues to affect the way we see everything else.  My mother was half, more than half, of that world, and I carry her with me.   

I know that I take pride in difference.  I felt rejected by mainstream culture as a child, so I've spent the rest of my life doing my best to reject the mainstream.  Being Chinese was one more way I could be different, I could be exotic.  I have been an active participant in the Othering of my mother.  I wanted to see Chinese as Other so I could be Other.  If I could have had a mother from a smaller, more obscure, physically exotic country, I would have.  Like the person of privilege that I am, I wore my Other like a costume, took it out when convenient, and put it away when it wasn't.  When I applied for college, I declined to mention race because being Asian doesn't help you get into college.  When I applied for professor jobs, I began sentences with the phrase, as a queer, multi-racial, woman... 

When I want to reference my connection to Chinese culture, I don't know how to separate the "good" reasons from the "bad" ones.  They are both there.  Every time I take out a reason to claim my mother's culture as mine, it comes with a reason I shouldn't.  But it goes the other way.  Every time I say no, that has nothing to do with me, I remember the rice cooker and the lions and the way that I can't hear my mother's accent any more than I can hear an Californian accent, because it is not an accent, it is simply her voice.


1. Hey, look, a woman who's been made to feel as if she doesn't have a right to her culture and ethnicity.  Check out what she's got to say about that. 

2. 189 (point zero) today.  No party plans for the weekend, emotional trauma unlikely, this time it's a keeper.

3. And I didn't see HSB on Wednesday.  Because I didn't go to salsa on Wednesday.  I moved heavy shelving and tables, and then I had dance lesson and practice for two hours, and at the end I was so tired, and I wasn't following very well (usually happens when I get tired, I stop being able to respond quickly to input, which means that by the time I realize I've been given a lead, it's eight counts later), and after looking at myself in the mirror for two hours, I decided that the clothes were not the right ones and I felt a little self conscious and this was not a good time to see someone I wanted to impress.  So I went home and stole things in Skyrim.  I am going to restore the Thieves' Guild to it's former glory.

4. Someone found my blog by googling "how to deal with a satanist ex boyfriend."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Remember when I was going through a normal phase?  I'm pretty sure that's over.

133: snowballing


I am overly concerned about the possibility of HSB tonight.  Who might not even be there.  And might not be anything at all.  However, in the chance that he might be there and it might matter, I am wearing my YOU'RE AWESOME shirt and a skirt that will twirl and not clash with sparkly pink shoes.

I am 0.4 lbs lighter this morning than the more optimistic of the measurements yesterday.  Still at 190, though. 

Learning lead in waltz, foxtrot, and tango is much harder for me than rumba, cha cha, and east coast swing was.  Well, I'd already learned ECS, so it's just the other two.  I think that some of it is because rumba and cha cha are the same pattern for lead and follow, just offset by four counts, while waltz, foxtrot, and tango are actually new steps, not just the ones I've been doing in a different order.  I didn't really realize how much I was using muscle memory until I tried doing something without it.

I want to write down that THIS IS HARD, so that when I am good at it, I can come back, quote this entry, and gloat.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Petty Grievances

I finally set up an RSS feed.  I think. That's what Google Reader is, right?  Anyway, once I got over the wow this is so convenient I should have done it sooner, I realized a problem.  It's too convenient.  I don't need to spend any time checking things, because it's all being checked, all the time, and it will alert me when there's something new.


I weighed myself this morning at 190.8 pounds.  It was a little disappointing.  I waited a bit, I tried to pee, just in case.  I weighed myself again: 191.4 pounds.  Maybe that was a glitch.  I tried again: 191.4.  And again, same.  So I wrote "190" down in my spreadsheet.

A list of online dating pet peeves:

"I like to have fun,"
"My favorite books are Lolita..."
"My tastes are all over the place!"
Everyone likes to have fun.  Duh.  I would SO jump on a profile if someone said they hated fun. 

I read Lolita.  And I have a very hard time believing that 60% of Iowa City "loves" that book.  I'm pretty sure that 99% of them are lying.

The New Elitists

Monday, July 16, 2012


Seems awfully disingenuous to keep doing the "oh, and hi," bit, since it's obviously not an "oh I almost forgot" when it's how I end EVERY MESSAGE EVER.  But I like it anyway.


Dear [nonfiction editor]

Please consider the attached nonfiction piece, “CHAPTER 3: PRINTING,” for publication in The Colorado Review.

I work as a laboratory specialist in Photography and 3D Design at The University of Iowa. My poetry has appeared in The Iowa Review, and radio essays aired on KCBS in Bellevue, Washington and KRUI at home in Iowa City, Iowa.

Thank you for your consideration.

(In retrospect, the last sentence would have been better phrased, "...radio essays aired on KCBS in Bellevue, Washington, and at home on KRUI Iowa City, Iowa.")

Week 9, part 1: fortnight

Having (almost) completely missed week 8, I am using the numbers from week 7 to calculate.

I am hoping to see HSB on Wednesday.  I have the rest of my tattoo on Friday. 

One of the funny things about the tattoo is that, because it's text, I could make a very realistic digital mock-up (not the one I posted, I made another one after meeting with Kris) and so it wasn't strange to see my legs looking the way they do, it was strange to realize that they looked like that in real life.  But Kris' sketches are black and white, so I am only imagining what the rest will look like in color, and even though I know what color it will be, it's not the same as seeing it.  I won't actually see it until it's on my skin.  Which is a little scary, but I trust her and that's how she works.

I don't know why I feel so blah.  I have things to look forward to, in the not-so-distant-future.  I lost a little weight, not much, but more than I expected to. 

And yet, blah.

What I Expected Anyway

Friday, July 13, 2012

I had a thought

I could make 3D animated video tutorials.  I have the power. 

Do you know how long it would take?  It would take a really long time. 

More skirt math, part 3

The back is like the front, but without the fiddly zippers.  There are four pieces, like this:

(The height of the Back Center piece is the same as the other two, I just didn't want to gum up my pretty diagram.)

STEP SEVEN: Repeat steps five and six.  (Sew the top three pieces together, iron the seams open, sew the bottom piece to the top, iron the seams so the excess all goes downward, top stitch the seam down.)

STEP EIGHT: Sew the the front to the back along the side edges.  Try it on.  You may need to adjust your seam allowances on the two side seams until you have a fit you really like.

Okay, here's the part that's bugging me.  In the past I have just made a really long rectangle, the length of my waist with a little extra for button overlap.  But because the skirt tapers as it goes up, and the waistband doesn't, it keeps acting weird when I wear it, and I think that the waistband really needs tapering, too.  SO, here's how I intend to to the next one:

You will need three pieces:

I forgot to write in:  all of the pieces are 5.5" tall.

Here's the math:

Use the same waist measurement that you used for the body of the skirt.  It should be your waist approximately 2" below where you want your skirt to sit.

STEP NINE:  Cut out waist band pieces.

STEP TEN:  Fold in and iron 1/2" on the top and bottom of each piece.  You will have three rectangles that are now 4.5" tall.

(If you are using interfacing, you will also want to cut three strips that are as long as the fabric, but 2" tall.  Iron to the bottom half of each fabric piece.)

STEP ELEVEN:  Fold each rectangle in half, horizontally, so that the right sides are facing outwards, and the folded pieces look like this:

STEP TWELVE:  Trim the tops of each rectangle like this:

You want to be trimming approximately 0.25" off on each cut.

STEP THIRTEEN:  These three pieces need to be put together into one long piece, with the back in the center, and the two front pieces on each side, but I haven't decided on the best way to do that.  I am thinking of surging each short side, folding in the edges of the back piece, and sewing it over the edges of the front pieces.  But there might be better ways.

STEP FOURTEEN: Hem the center of each front piece.

STEP FIFTEEN: Fit the top of the skirt into the open end of the waistband, overlapping approximately 0.5".  (The right front waistband should stick out a bit beyond the skirt body.  This is so it will overlap with the left front waistband and you can put in a button or snap or whatever.)  Sew down.  Top stitch the very top edge of the waistband.

STEP SIXTEEN: Make buttonhole.  Sew on button.  Or snaps or frog closures or whatever.

STEP SEVENTEEN: Fold the bottom edge of the skirt up to the length you want, and hem.


More skirt math, part 2

You now have five pieces cut like this.  I named them for the next section:

STEP TWO: Fold in, iron, and sew down .25" on the center sides of R2 and L2.

STEP THREE: Take a short zipper, at least 1/2 longer than the height of your top pieces.  Longer is fine, but kind of a waste.  Unzip the zipper as far as it goes.  Pin the zipper to the back of L2 so that the knobby part of the zipper just barely peeks out on the side.  Like this:

Look! I drew a zipper!

STEP FOUR: Sew piece R2 over the other side of the zipper, so that the fabric overlaps the zipper by about .5"  Like this:

It's the same zipper, but still cool!

Notice that when you zip up the zipper, the right piece overlaps the left piece, so you can't see the zipper!  This is the hardest part.  You're done with the hard part.  Yay!

STEP FIVE: Sew L1 onto L2, as they are laid out, so the diagonal of L1 is on the very outside.  Do the same for R1 and R2.  Sew with right sides facing and then iron open the seams.  It should look like this:

STEP SIX: Zip up the zipper.  With right sides facing, sew the top edge of Front Bottom piece to the bottom edge of the thing you just made.  Iron the seams so that all of the excess fabric goes downward.  This way the zipper leftovers just go straight down, and don't create any more bulk than they have to.  Top stitch the seams down.  You now have a front piece.


More Skirt Math, part 1

This is the new skirt (minus pockets, because I barely understand them, and have no idea how to explain, much less illustrate how they work):

The skirt is made up of 9 pieces: 7 trapezoids for the top of the skirt (4 in front, 3 in back) and two rectangles for the bottom (one front, one back), plus the waistband, which I am in the process of redesigning, more on that later.  This construction serves two functions: makes it easier to put in a zippered fly, and creates the hip shaping. 

NOTE: Because of the zippered fly, there will be a slight difference between the right and left sides of the front of the skirt.  I will be referring to R and L sides from the perspective of when you are wearing the skirt.  Stage Right and Stage Left, if you will.  Like this:

I do it this way because whenever I get confused I usually look down at what I'm wearing and think, okay, so this goes here.  Also keep in mind that this diagram is the way the skirt will look when finished, so the right sides of the fabric are facing.  If the skirt is wrong side facing, the R/L will be reversed.  Yay!  This is seriously the worst part of this whole thing.

Okay, so getting started.  The front of the skirt is made out of 5 pieces, shaped like this:

Math: Measure your waist at approximately 2" below where you want the top of the skirt to be.  Measure the widest point of your hips.  If you are like me, and have hips that are the same size as your waist, you can use the diameter that you would like your hips to be.

The 0.5" you are adding to both measurements is for a .25" seam allowance (one on each side).  If you make larger seams, you will need to add more.  The last skirt didn't really care about seams because most of the skirt wasn't fitted, and besides, there was elastic.  This skirt is fitted, and has no elastic, so it needs to be a lot more fiddly.  Be prepared to try on, tweak, and repeat.

Measure the distance between your waist and the widest part of your hips (or, like me, where the widest part should be).  Add 0.5 for seam allowances, and this is measurement C.

If you want to do an invisible zipper somewhere, you can skip the next part, and make one center panel with the same measurements as the sides (A on the top, B on the bottom, C tall) but center the top so it goes out equally on both sides.  Otherwise, follow along:

Are we good?  The rest is easier.  H is your hips plus .5 seam allowance.  I is the total length of your skirt minus C.  (True, you will lose some length with seams, but you will also gain some length with the waistband, and ta-daaa they cancel each other out!)  If you are working with fabric that will not fit a single piece that is H by I dimensions, as long as you can piece something together that ends up at H by I, you'll be fine.  If you are piecing, I recommend splitting the width in three pieces or five, or some other odd number.  It just looks better.

STEP ONE: Now that you have your dimensions, you can cut out your pieces!  Remember that each piece has one side that is square, and one side that is angled.  The easiest way to do this is to make a rectangle, and then trim in on one side to the smaller dimension.  If you are working with a light fabric, you will also want to use interfacing.  I really, really, like a heavy woven iron-on interfacing, but there are options, and you might like something else better.

It is always a good idea to actually write all of these things down, so you end up with a diagram of each piece.  It might also be a good idea to draw/cut pattern pieces out of paper or newspaper, and write on each piece what it is.  Once you cut each piece in fabric, pin a label or write in sewing marker so each piece is clearly labeled.


Clothing decisions, in more detail than necessary

Today I am wearing a white t-shirt and pale beige skirt.  This is because after work I am going to dress up as a gay cow and get a free chicken sandwich*.  The plan is to wear white, and attach rainbow spots to my clothes, and wear a tail, ears, and possibly a cowbell.  I own two white items that are not shirts.  One is a slip.  The other is a petticoat.  So I go with beige as the next best plan.

After gay cow sandwich I have a ballroom dance to go to.  It will be the first one of these since the latest tattoo.  Also the first one since glittery pink shoes.  So all other decisions need to be made in relation to those two things.  Bright shoes says no color elsewhere.  Tattoo says skirt that twirls up, so that tattoo is revealed in various amounts as I move.  I only own two colorless skirts, and only one of them twirls up.  I feel as if the polka dots will be slightly more attention grabbing than a plain black would be, but the twirling makes up for it.  And, in the future, I should probably think about acquiring a twirly black skirt.

I want to wear shoes without visible socks.  I also don't want to wear nylons over my tattoo.  And I have really small socks that don't show, but in the past they also slip down when I try to dance and it's really annoying but I hate wearing good shoes without socks.

*Chick-Fill-A is having a "show up dressed as a cow and get a free sandwich" day.  Since Chick-Fil-A is a strong supporter of anti-gay groups, and really stupid lawsuits, we are going to take advantage of their free food day and make Chick-Fill-A give out sandwiches to a bunch of gay cows.

A much shorter list

1. Skirt #14 is finished.
2. Skirts are getting better and faster.
3. I have vacation time coming up and no plans.
4. I am low on money.
5. Kenda lets me use her workshop.
6. I am going to KILL my fabric stash.  I am going to use it all up and then I'm going to piece the leftovers into new pieces of fabric and then I am going to use up the new pieces.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

To try country dancing at Wildwood or not to try country dancing at Wildwood

that is the question

Stats junkie

I've been finding spammy links in my "referring websites" section of my blog stats which makes me sad because now my numbers don't mean anything, or at least now I know that they don't mean anything, and that's too bad.

A really long list

1. I have EXCELLENT bone. My bone is tough and bulky and AMAZING. The dentists said so. I went in for a new mold of my teeth, and I was secretly terrified that they would say "oh no, there isn't enough bone! You ate it all up again!" And, ladies and gentlemen, I would have had a meltdown then and there because I have been waiting for 8 months for a new tooth, and at the current estimates it will be another 3-4 months more and I would really like this to be over, please, can it be over?

But it will. Possibly in time to get a new tooth for Christmas.

2. We have a cat named Iggy. Iggy is the floppiest, friendliest cat you've ever met. You can pick him up in all sorts of funny ways, and he purrs. Sometimes I'll set my hand down on the couch and realize that there's a cat there, and he purrs. Because I touched him, which is almost like petting him, and if I leave my hand in his vicinity, he'll rub against it, like, hey, that's okay you don't have to do any work, you can pet me and all you have to do is stay there oh purrrr.

I am kind of like that. The minute someone pays attention to me, any attention, any friendlieness at all, I think does it mean something? Does he like me? He came up to me and talked! He spent time with me! What's going on?

Cute boy. Hipster glasses, like mine. REALLY good salsa dancer, easy to follow, lots of flair. Asked me to dance the last time I went, and was nice and I flubbed a lot of it, because, salsa, and I sort of figured that he saw me, and thought I was good, and then he danced with me, and now he knows better so that's that. I went back yesterday, and he asked me again. He actually asked me during a bachata if I would dance the next salsa with him. And we talked about how we don't like bachata or merengue, and we danced, and he sat at my table, and when he got up he gave me a reason, have to say hello to the birthday girl, and when he left the club, he said I have to work at seven tomorrow and there was some sort of we'll dance again next time bit.

And I don't think that I stand out in this crowd for being either good looking or a good dancer (as there are plenty of better examples of both on the floor, often in the same person), and it's not like he's had a chance to notice that I'm interesting. I'm obviously there by myself, so maybe he's being nice? But part of me is Iggy, saying, Hey you noticed me! You LOVE me!

3. Time to make an appointment for part 2 of tattoo. Kris has time this coming Tuesday, which is AWESOME because it's SOON and I hate waiting. And I probably won't take that day because it means I can't go salsa dancing on Wednesday, and that means no Hipster Salsa Boy (to be known as HSB). I could probably get away with taking ballroom lessons on the day after a tattoo, because of all the starting and stopping, but it's not possible to salsa without sweat. Which means that I will try to get the time slot on Friday, but there's someone else with dibs on it, and if I don't get Friday I'll wait until the week after? Which means that I am now rearranging my plans for a guy I've talked to for less than 10 minutes. Because he noticed me. And that's all it takes.

4. Do you think I can take vicodin before getting tattooed? Not that I can't handle it, it's on my calf, and I know I can, but why hurt when you can not-hurt? This is a question for Kris.

5. Oh, right. I actually weighed myself today. Not bad, not good. Still stuck in place.

6. I am terrified of my tooth implant. Apparently there are screws in my jaw that will need to be removed, which will require peeling my gums back to take them out, and I'm pretty sure that's why the bone graft was so awful, was the whole gum-peeling-back bit. Turns out flesh is actuallly attached to bone (who knew, except everyone, duh), and un-attaching it, even without pain, is very unpleasant. Last time, I didn't really know what I was getting into; this time I know. Which makes it so much worse. Why are all the things I'm looking forward to going to hurt?

7. Mary Janes came in, in a lovely robin's egg blue. (On screen, they looked a little more of a dull-aqua, but whatever.) Sadly, they need stretching, enough stretching that I really don't want to use my feet to do it, so I need to get shoe stretchers. I also ordered another pair (in extra extra wide) in camel. Sad, wide wide feet.

8. I was early to ballroom dance yesterday because I was almost late the day before. So I talked to the receptionist for a while. I love her because she understands things like "I have to know the very SECOND that glittery shoes arrive," and, "it's hard to own clothes when one's waist changes by 8 inches on a regular basis." And we talked about private lessons, and why I don't take them ($80/hour or so yikes), and how great it would be to take them, and she's seen me dance and I'm good and obviously love it, and I'd like performing but maybe not competing because that changes things. And I was thinking about how nice it would be to have levels and acheivements and everything. I was a Suzuki child. If I took private lessons I'd be doing curriculum, and I'd have boxes to check off, and levels to beat, and I'd love it. So maybe in the fall when I can take lessons with the UI club at $3 a lesson instead of $11 at the studio, and I'm done with the tattoo, and not sewing skirts, I'll have enough to buy a lesson package.

9. The salsa step we learned at ballroom yesterday totally kicked my ass. It involves traveling turns which are apparently really hard for me, especially because it's a tuck turn, and then going forward, and the momentum that gets me spinning is also momentum pushing me back, and it took a million tries before I could do it without nearly falling down, much less actually ending up in the right place. This is the first time I've felt genuinely challenged. I'm still bad at it. I will work at it. And then I will feel AMAZING.

10. This is a long list.

11. I will finish skirt #14 tonight: brown pinstripes, very professional, possibly to be followed by a pinstripe corset. I've been making a corset pattern. It's almost done. Usually I sew everything slapdash, with the idea that no one will actually inspect my seams while I am wearing the skirt.  As long as it is a skirt, and not conceptual art, I am satisfied. These new skirts are so much fancier, with a zippered fly, and pockets that aren't just a rectangle sewed on after the fact, but built in to the skirt, I am so proud of them.

12. I do not knit anything that I can finish in less than a month. I do not sew anything that I can't finish in an afternoon. Don't know why that is.

13. This is a really long list.

14. Seriously, now I don't want to end it, just because it is so long.

15. Remember the pony blog? I started reading the words. Then I teared up a little, and went back to this list. Apparently, if I keep reading, there will also be porn, which is apparently problematic porn, so you have your warning.

16.Whatever I end with is going to have way more importance than it deserves.  Like when you break up with someone, and what you remember of them is the things they said while breaking up, even though you were together for six years, and most of it wasn't like that at all.  It's hard to remember the other stuff.  That's why endings are important, you have to do them right.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What I am Looking At and You Should Too

So pretty much all my new internet places are curated via Cassie. Here is the newest:

There are also cats, and words, lots of words that I will probably go and read as well, but so you know I haven't read them yet so I am not recommending the words at this moment.  I am recommending ponies.  Designer My Little Ponies.  The plastic is in its original shape, but everything else is new.

And when I first heard of this, it seemed like it was supposed to be funny, like "hey look, bondage pony" but the execution is so damn good, and so sincere, that it kisses hipster irony on the cheek and then sails on by. 

It's like those cooking shows, where gourmet chefs take ordinary foods that we take for granted as yummy in a pedestrian kind of way, and make them amazing.  This is gourmet pony. This is seriously fucking creme brulee pony.  Or something fancier that I don't even know about because me and fancy food are pretty much total strangers.  This is like some food I haven't even heard of. 
She was the platonic ideal of grandmother, the one true grandmother against which we measure all others. She was a beacon of The Way Things Were Supposed to Be. She made casseroles and jello salad and apple pie. She labeled things. She saved scraps. She came to every play and every recital. She was solid and soft, blue-eyed and rosy. She never gave up trying to convince me to stop biting my nails.

I did not see her or talk to her yesterday, and I won't today, either. I didn't ever expect to. She is not missing, not right now. She will be missing in San Diego, and I will be aware of her absence. But Iowa is untouched. It is so far away.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I should probably write Pesto-boy back, since the last thing I said was "I'm totally not available at the moment," except that I don't want to be all, "hey, no biggie, she died so now I can socialize properly again."  So I wait.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Page 5

My grandmother's craft book.

Page 1

My grandmother's craft book.


My food in the freezer got thrown out because I didn't label it, so I ate my last can of soup and then I ate a bag of chips and two bags of mint M&Ms and now I feel like crap.


If I had broken up with a boyfriend on Saturday, I would be a mess today.  I would be taking breaks so I could hide behind the building and cry.

I am okay.  I am so totally okay that it doesn't even take any effort.  I'm so okay that I'm actually trying to drum up some sorrow because this deserves sorrow, dammit, but it doesn't come.

Week 8, part 1: updates

No weight today.  Maybe tomorrow.

I called Delta about the plane tickets.  Customer service was excellent.  My current flight plans are canceled, and when I have information about the memorial service, I will call with the information and I can apply the cost of the canceled tickets towards a flight to the service in August. 

She was unconscious, with her daughter sitting by her side.  She was breathing, and then she wasn't.  It was not all anyone could have hoped for, but it was all we could have asked for. 

I really hate the phrase passed away.  Sometimes I use it anyway because it seems to make other people more comfortable.

I did go to to the double birthday, and didn't say anything.  I wrote back to the interesting boy, and I did.  I suppose, in retrospect, it probably should have been the other way around.

The other half of my failing conversation asked if I wanted to be friends.  I said

I'm honestly surprised you're asking, since I feel like I've been trying and failing to make conversation, and you haven't expressed an interest in, or even seemed to notice, anything I've said that wasn't a direct question. I wish you well in your endeavors, but no, I don't see a friendship developing here.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The call came.  I didn't hear it, but I did hear the message, and then called, and it's done.  I will be having a conversation with Delta to see about changing my travel plans.

Meet Kirsten

I apparently have a lot of soliloquy in me these days.

I'm mad at her because when we first met she seemed awkward and out of place, too sincere and too goofy to be cool. And I don't want to think that I liked her because other people didn't, that I could be special if I had a small enough playing field.  And maybe I didn't.  Watching her become cool was the same as watching her become remote, because she was going places I couldn't or wouldn't go. And I know why she can, and does, and I don't. I could go along with the people, and do the things, but I don't want to, and she does. She genuinely loves these things, and I would be doing them because I want to belong which isn't good enough so I don't. And now it seems as if she takes so easily for herself what I can't take for mine, sometimes the specific thing I want, sometimes just the framework. And I am mad at her because I didn't see it from the beginning.

She is good, and kind, and sincere and goofy, and more people appreciate her than I expected.  And I can't fault her or them for it.  She is leaving, and I wish her well.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

And for the record

because I said "I'm from San Diego and I hate the heat," and someone said "yeah it must be terrible to be 70 degrees and balmy," I present (you'll have to click through to full size) last year's August weather.

Iowa City:


Unless you're actually, literally, on a beach, it's a desert.  It didn't look like this outside my window

it looked like this

I woke up this morning believing that my grandmother had died during the night.  I have spent all day waiting for the second email that tells me she's gone.  I get nervous away from my phone, away from my computer.  I had dinner with friends, and I only once asked to borrow someone's phone to check my email.  Instead of checking again and again, I wrung my hands, my breath shallow and anxious, I couldn't stand the thought that the message had come but I didn't know it yet.

I can't stand that there will be time in between my grandmother dying and my knowing it, that for a moment or an hour I will think that I live in a world where she is alive, and I will be wrong. 

And now, it is dark, and she is still alive, I think, and I wonder if instead of worrying and waiting I should have gotten on a plane, I could be there now, only I didn't because I thought it was too late.  And maybe it is now, but maybe it wasn't this morning.
I am not conscious of emotion when I read the email.  And so it is a surprise when, in a few minutes I discover that I am crying.  I cry.  And then I go to sleep, listening to the same sleep mix that I've listened to for the last few days.  Josh Ritter, Iron and Wine, The Decemberists.  I start with the Jeff Buckley Hallelujah but it feels like setting a soundtrack and it is all too self-consciously maudlin so I switch to Girl in the War.

This morning I am waiting for the second email.

And I worry that I won't know what to do because I want so badly, for my father's sake, because it's too late for my grandmother's sake, I want to do this right.

I charged my phone, in case he calls.

I found her photo album of quilts.  I keep meaning to scan the photos so I can give the album back to my aunt.  I think I will scan it this afternoon.

I have a message to write back to an interesting boy.  I have a double birthday party tonight.  I will write to him, and I will go to the party, but I don't know what to say.  I don't want them to have to make room for Big Serious Sad Things.  But I have to say something, right?

How long does it take to arrange a funeral?  Can I afford to change my flight?  Will I need to?  What should I wear?

I feel like Anya, when Buffy's mom dies, which I think says something because Anya is a demon trying to learn in a year or two how to be human, and I've had 32 years and I still don't know.

And then I check my email again.

Hours, maybe days, but not twelve of them.  In twelve days I will be too late.

Ask a Knitter:

I love Ravelry.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Message five, and

still nothing beyond direct answers to direct questions.

And I thought, maybe I'm exaggerating.  I looked back at email conversations I've had with other people, just to check and see, yes, this is what a conversation looks like.

And this is not what a conversation looks like.

I'm done here.

Blockquotes are my new favorite thing.

I went back to re-read favorite bits from the object of my (new and improved and un-embarrassed) fangirling.

This bit here, is what got me started.  (Although, feel free to read everything else, I certainly have.)  Reading it again, I noticed something.  It's when he says,

Don’t you realize that at best, you’re saying I’m deluded, and really, what you’re actually doing is calling me a liar?
Over the years, I’ve realized that I do have my lines from which I will brook no crossings, no jokes, no pushing, no arguments. If you want to be in my life, there are a few rules. One of them is that you do not call me a liar about my own truth. I will cut you out of my life for that and not regret doing so, and you will not be allowed back in. If you needed it, consider this your warning.

Because this, this, is what is behind the ranting and raving and endless talk I've been doing about heritage and culture and who and what I am.  I was told that I was wrong about my own truth.  And I exploded.  And I am, slowly, digging the shrapnel out from the floors.

This is my truth.  Don't you dare call me a liar.

Week 7, almost over

It's more than a month into summer, and so far I continue to fail at making progress.  I'm not exercising nearly as much (fewer dance classes and I've abandoned the Kinnect), and every two or three weeks I have another "special," food-related event, like a vacation or anniversary party or the 4th of July, and it takes me a week or two to undo the damage, and then another one comes up.  If I were better overall, more exercise, more rigorous diet, maybe I'd still be making progress.  Or if I decided that the "special" events weren't special enough, and not worth the fight afterwards.  But as it is, I am stalled.  And this is almost exactly the same place I stalled at last time, and it frustrates me.  Last time, I stopped because the stress of job hunting and the impending doom of losing my roof and my income at the same time and then the fun of working three part-time jobs to scrape by.  This time, I don't have those excuses.  I just have but I don't want to miss the grilling!

And I got the kind of message on OK Cupid that made me swear at the screen, because it sounded just like something I would have written, except for the details that didn't actually describe me or my life, and he lives 230 miles away in Missouri.  And I wrote him back, and he's written back, promptly, but in four messages so far, he hasn't once responded to anything I've said that wasn't a direct question.  He doesn't ask me any questions, he doesn't respond to anything I say that isn't a direct question.  I will chat about what he says, maybe allude to something in my life (dental surgery, yarn, etc.), but he doesn't pick any of that up, he just answers my questions. 

I know that I like to talk about myself, more than I ought, but all I'm asking for here is a little give and take.  He wrote to me, and I'm assuming that's because there was some interest in what I have to say, since I don't think it was my amazing rack. 

I worry that I'm being too picky, that it's not fair to judge him for failing to meet some secret set of criteria.  It wasn't too long ago that I stopped writing someone else back for the same reasons: he answered my questions but didn't give me much to go on and it was getting hard to write back and I just didn't want to work that hard.  This time, there's plenty to ask, and I can always volunteer other things, but what's the point if he doesn't show any interest?

The Cub says he has single (straight, male) friends, and I think that, now that he's married, he wants to help everyone else be as happy as he is, and part of me perks up at the idea, and part of me thinks, why bother.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


My head hurts.  Need to drink more water.

One month almost down,

two to four months left.

Fourth of July

Later that day, I sat on my porch drinking cider and sweating, while some white guy taught me Chinese history. And I was thinking how this would be funny from an essentialist perspective, because he was trying to teach me about my people. Except, while he may not be an expert, he does know more than I do, because I don't know shit about Chinese history.

He had a tattoo that I couldn't quite see, on his inner arm, immediately above or below his elbow. It looked like Chinese characters, although I couldn't get a good enough view to say, and it might have been some other non-Roman language. Which is what I actually wanted to talk about.

I feel as if a lot of the tattoo discussion has been about having or not having a right to use a set of symbols, about whether it is or isn't appropriation. And I don't think those are the right questions to ask. I don't think that appropriation is bad. I think that thoughtless appropriation is bad. I think that using another culture's traditions because of a superficial attraction, because they seem exotic, is shallow and disrespectful. I think that when it's a conquering culture, a privileged culture, thoughtlessly appropriating a conquered, non-privileged, culture, it is especially harmful, because the appropriation becomes One More Thing that is taken away. The problem is the unconscious expression of privilege, and the reasons behind the appropriation, not the appropriation itself.

I took an art history class in American Indian art for four weeks over the summer, because I needed three more credits, and if you take art history as a four week class you don't have to write a term paper. Four weeks, four tests, and it's over. No surprise: I didn't retain much information after that summer. What I do remember is this: Navajo blankets, the famous kind that you can find for sale every five miles along the freeway across Arizona, they aren't entirely Navajo. The Navajo were weaving blankets for a few hundred years, but they were made with muted colors, mostly gray and black and white. The bright reds and blues and oranges that these blankets are known for didn't become part of the Navajo tradition until they lived with Mexicans in Spanish camps and assimilated Mexican colors into their own art. In this case, only the traditional colors were used, not symbols, but those colors were not Navajo colors, they were not Navajo tradition, until they were. People change each other. Sometimes what is meaningful to one culture also resonates with another, and to claim sole ownership of an idea or symbol is to cripple it.

This guy on my porch with his Asian language tattoo and his recitation of the Boxer Rebellion, he found something meaningful to him. He learned more about it. He traveled, over and over, to the place where the idea first took hold, and spoke with the people who carry on the tradition. He meditates. He learns. He cares. And the symbols of the culture, for him, are symbols of the ideas he found there and I'm not going to tell him that he doesn't have a right to wear them. It's not about having the right. We all have the right. I only ask that we use it carefully and thoughtfully, that we treat other people with dignity and respect.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Every Time I Think I'm Done, I'm Not.

If I am rejecting the culture, language, landscape, that is mine, then it must be something that is mine without my knowledge or permission. It is mine in my blood and bones, my skin and teeth and nails, even if it is locked out of my heart. It is not something I can decide for myself. Because otherwise, if it were something I could choose, then it wouldn't be mine until I chose it. Right? Which means that culture is something that is transmitted, unintentionally, via nature or nurture, or some combination of the two. It is something that I am, rather than something that I do. And, given that I was raised in America, following American customs and traditions, then it must be nature that made me what I am. As if culture could be found in a test tube, in my mother's DNA.

I have never understood the way that people conflate genetic and emotional relationships. The way that, upon learning that they are adopted, children come to the conclusion that their parents are not their parents. The way that people with O' in their name put Celtic designs on things, despite not being able to name a single person who has ever lived in Ireland. The way that children who are adopted by parents of other ethnicities are supposed to be taught "their heritage," because to do otherwise is to deny them something they deserve to have.

I realize that I am not in the majority here. It's not my only unpopular idea. People care about bloodlines. Our cultures, all of them, were formed around the importance of geneology. We have a biological imperative to reproduce, and to do our best to insure the health of our biological offspring. I understand this. But I don't get it. I never have.

It seems so obvious to me that what makes a parent is the act of parenting, rather than the act of biological creation. And it seems obvious to me that what is my mother's is not inherently mine. That what it means to be Chinese is so much more than what can be passed along like hair color or height. To claim Chinese-ness, I have to reduce it down to something shallow, almost frivilous. Something I can have without needing to know or care very much. Something small enough to fit in my pocket, so I can pull it out at parties, like a magic trick or a joke, hey look! Chinese.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

No more, no less

There is a place in the world for fangirls.  For inexplicable crushes and devotion to—not a person, exactly, but something that takes the shape of a person, who for all practical purposes is a person, and yet his or her personhood is strangely irrelevant. 

When I was a teenager, I fell in love with Tori Amos.  I was not alone in my love, not by a long shot, not even above the curve in the intensity of my love, the single-minded-ness with which I pursued her.  There were thousands of us across the country, fifteen year old girls with our hearts in our throats at the sound of her breath, the palms of our hands empty of her hips as we watched her rock back and forth on the piano bench.  She was glorious.  And she understood me.

I write this because I have decided to stop being embarrassed.  I am fangirling again.  That's all. 


My roommates know.  My father doesn't.  My aunt and uncle and another aunt know.  Some of my old classmates know.  Some of them don't. 

In the New York Times there is a "debate" about whether gay celebrities have a moral obligation to come out.  I put scare quotes around debate because the three opinions are:
A. You're either a hero or part of the problem
B. It's your decision; you can be dumb and closeted if you want to
C. I won't tell you to come out, but I wish you would
I am not completely out of the closet, and it shames me.  It isn't being not-straight, but being not-quite-out that I am ashamed of.  And, ironically enough, it's that shame of being not-out that makes me afraid of coming out.  I'm not afraid that anyone would say what's wrong with you for being gay; I'm afraid they'll say what's wrong with you for being closeted for so long.  Well, that, and I feel like I'm not gay enough to be gay, I feel like a fraud claiming it, and it doesn't help when it seems as if there are so many people, gay and straight, who think that being a bisexual woman doesn't really count.  Especially a bisexual woman who has plenty of experience with men, who likes them a lot and knows what she likes, but has almost no experience with women and is, well, kind of terrified of them.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Week 7, part 1: True Names

Thank God.

Two women bloggers, both with very young daughters. One blogs about her daughter, for her daughter, because she wants her daughter to have this story, her story. The other says nothing. Until her daughter is old enough to decide for herself what she wants her story to be, she will say nothing.


I have a friend who gives new, generic names, to people on her blog. The Boy, or Babysister. She says that she doesn't want their names used where they can't see or respond.


A long time ago, I decided to use names. The logic went something like this: there are two levels of people in the world, those who know me IRL, and if I talk about an M. who lives with me, they know what M stands for, they know who he is and what he looks like and he has exactly the same privacy, in regards to them, as he would if I used his full name. The other kind of people only know me via the internet, and wouldn't be able to pick out my lover from a lineup, whether they knew his name, or not. And knowing his first name wouldn't give them any more ability to make a connection between his existence as a character in my blog and his existence as a person in real life. It's not like one can google "Mike" and get anything useful. So it seemed to me that there was no practical advantage to using an initial. It felt coy, as if I were pretending to do more than I was really doing, as if I wanted to appear mysterious more than I wanted to actually preserve anyone's privacy. This logic, of course, only works for ubiquitous names. If I were, amazingly, friends with Englebert Humperdink, calling him Englebert would be pretty much the same as linking to his Facebook page, if he were my friend and had a Facebook page.

I have never thought of this space as a factual kind of space. I have never thought it was a place anyone would expect to find fair or accurate information. I have always assumed that people know that I am talking about how I feel, which is often unreliable and irrational, and that as a narrator I can't be trusted. When I'm ranting about the Snobs in Ballroom Dance, I'm cherrypicking anecdotes that feed my rant, not trying to make an honest assessment of their flaws and strengths. It's a rant. On a blog. A blog that isn't about anything, except being about me. And often, it's because my thoughts are irrational or my rant is unfair that I post it here, because I don't really mean it, the demons are strictly in my head, they are not real people, because the real people are not demons. If I meant it, I might say it for real. Since I don't mean it, not really, or I mean it, but the people I'm talking to aren't real, it goes here instead.

Since what I am presenting is not fact, it is skewed, it is prejudiced, it is what I was thinking at the time, it seems prudent to not mislead any readers into making conclusions about real people. Making conclusions about characters, about the imaginary people in my headspace shouldn't lead to making conclusions about the people they are a response to. I want to muddy the link between this space and physical space.

Words spoken in anger might be quickly rescinded.  They might not be an honest view of someone's true thoughts.  I want to be able to engage with the ideas without engaging the speaker, because it doesn't really matter who believes them, or doesn't, anymore, I am not trying to change the mind of a specific person, I am turning the ideas over and considering what my response is and why.

So I am reconsidering my policy regarding names and this blog. I have already given you a few initials recently, in place of names, since I'm discussing my family, and you already have access to their last names (or, at least, given your access to my last name, you have a pretty good chance of guessing their last names). And I am wondering if the reason I dislike using pseudonyms so much is the reason I should use them. If names matter, if they have any power in the world, then maybe this space is a poor place to use that power.


I have made thirteen skirts this summer, and I am still mad for more.  I still have them in my head, clamoring to be made real.  This weekend I have been making, well, something between a pencil skirt and an A-line, with zippers and pockets and topstitching and everything.  I have a robin's egg blue corduroy and a candy apple corduroy, and I am thinking of making something in a brown tweed or something equally librarian-ish, maybe wool to wear with leggings in the fall.  And I am thinking that I have plenty of skirts, I have a full wardrobe overhaul and more already, and I have things to do with money, but I don't want to stop I love them so much.