ceci ce n’est pas une poste*

by Charlotte

Magritte’s The Treachery of Images

Hey, reader.  I suppose we could go through the complicated business of apologies and explanations, but let’s not.  I’ve been thinking about it, and I realize that I use the Internet like Quaker meeting.  I speak when I feel moved to say something, and spend the rest of the time in contemplation—reading your blogs (and, yes, GOMI’s Crafting forum**), thinking, and the like.  It’s useful for no one but me, which makes it my favorite sort of anything.  I’ve published posts for the sake of cleaning out my drafts folder before, and it’s just not my sort of work.  Those posts feel a bit sterile to me, you know?

Where was I going with this?  Oh, yes!  I’ve spent the past few months reading around and thinking about sewing, and our community and all of that jazz.  I suppose my posting philosophy—and, yes, I am far enough up my own [I hate having a cleaned-up blog] to actually use that phrase to open a real, live sentence—mirrors my life philosophy [for those of you playing along at home, we’ve just hit Charlotte’s-a-dee-bag-bingo]: I try to leave spaces better than I’ve found them.  I don’t think that five photographs and a thousand words about my Monetas will bring any value-added to the community (feel free to disagree with me, you foolhardy few), so I just hang that sucker in my closet and call it a day.  After all, I’m not terribly original in my sewing.  You could just go visit Mary or Jenny or Neemie or Amanda, to name just a few, to see bangin’ versions of patterns of which I’ve made pale imitations.

But then, that causes a free-rider problem.  The sewing community exists because, yes, it’s a social fact that we’ve agreed to, and we’re bound by silent and not-so-silent rules, some of which make me spitting, raging angry (did I ever tell you about the time that I accidentally knocked off all of the books from my desk, as I launched a scathing rant at a (male) classmate in an English seminar, because he complained that a female protagonist wasn’t nice?  Third rail, reader.  THIRD. RAIL.), but that’s neither here nor there.  It also exists because people write things about sewing, and write reviews of the patterns they use.  In 2007/2008 I literally added every single sewing blog linked to by Pattern Review and Burda Style members to my Google reader [let’s all pour one out for GR] and I still just barely had enough to read.  Now, my to-read list teeters on the brink of untenable, and I have to consciously make a trade-off between number of blogs read and active participation in the community.   Talk about opportunity cost.

Then, I think about the ungodly number of self-help books I read.  They have names like Art and FearA Conversation with FearHow to Discern Whether or Not You Fear the Notion of Fear or the Act of Fearing, Also Fear. . .[Boo!].  Most of them have some variation of the same story.  In Art and Fear it’s a pottery class that’s divided into two: one half is instructed to throw their best work, while the other is instructed to just throw as many pots as possible.  The side that was just going for volume made the technically better work.  In A Conversation with Fear, the author’s husband decided to, quite casually, not come in to eat supper until he missed a basket—and sunk loads of shots in a row.  (The latter text is, incidentally, about skiing.)  In, Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity it is the simple piece of advice “the only way to gain approval, is to stop needing it” (or something along those lines.  “Is to not need it?”  I’m in a coffeeshop some 7 miles away from my apartment and that book, so who the hell knows?).

I don’t know, reader.  I’ve got loads of friends who pretend to not want or need things: to have just happened to have found themselves with tousled mermaid hair and wearing corally-pink NARS blush—reading just that book, in just that way, at just that very particular place where you can have enough witnesses to make it real, but not so many that you can be accused of actually trying to get attention.  To have woken up like that.  I wake up to the promise of tea, try to spend a few lazy minutes playing with the Ladies Witherspoon, and will perhaps blitz breakfast in the blender.  Not because my internal compass told me to soak almonds before eating them or drink green juice, but because the pushes and pulls of desires and interests clashed with lifestyle, aspiration, and the ever-so-sticky issues of class and status,  and wrote me a breakfast menu.  Veni, vidi, vici.

I have to admit that I understand why some people have a visceral distaste for the appearance of effort.  My theory is, it isn’t the actual appearance of effort, but discomfort with the dissolution of the fantasy of eventual effortlessness.  If everyone admitted that they hope to be one promotion or eye cream or sewn garment away from this book deal or that astonishing lack of crow’s feet—if it seemed like we were all trying—then life would seem a little more daunting.  The hope, for me at least, is to reach some sort of equilibrium and then ease off.  But that may never happen.

Oh, yes, the point to all this.  I’m on the fence on whether or not to put actual effort into this here blog, and what that would look like.   We’ve talked about this before, haven’t we?  On principle, I am a big believer in putting in visible effort.  I think it is especially important for women to be unashamed of their ambition.***  Gold effing stars, reader.  I want all of them.  However, I also recognize that sometimes these efforts fail—because of the perceived unattractiveness of effort, or because of discomfort with occupying the liminal space between being internally and externally driven, or because some people simply lack the finesse to gussy up how the sausages are made.  I like that I have enough readers to constitute a pretty comfortable cocktail party, rather than fill a football stadium.  I love looking through my stats and seeing where all of you are from (Sitka Alaska!  I was reading Yiddish Policeman’s Union, and wished I could have written you an email, Sitka Reader!  Wow, that bordered on creepy.  Or, when I was writing my paper on post-war pogroms, I realized I had some readers from Poland.  We have to talk, y’all.)  But!  I don’t feel like I’m a good or good-enough steward of this space, and I don’t think I contribute as much to the community as I take from it (yes, the goods are non-rival and non-exclusive, but still).

Anyway, that is State of the Seam Ripped.  2015: The Year I Try Not to Fuck Up.  Full stop.

* Yo, French speakers!  From what I understand, ceci c’est un blog, but if I were to try to use/translate post, would I feminize it like I would for postal mail, or masculinize it like a job post or a physical space?

**I have a big old rant about how some people sheepishly confess to things like watching Scandal or reading Robert Ludlum novels, as if the mere association with them compromises others’ view of their intellect or good intent.  People, man.  We’re allowed to be multifaceted.  Personally, I consider reading GOMI research, which is also why I watch as many Real Housewives franchises as I do.  Do with that what you will.

***Is it just me, or is it kind of a form of ladder-pulling?  Mindy Kaling seems to get frequently annoyed when young women ask her for advice for how to do what she did.  I’ve read her say something along the lines of, “Am I supposed to tell people to write two-man shows with their best friends and hope to have Greg Daniels in the audience?”  Uh, no, but you could tell people to keep working on something creative, even when they have three roommates and shitty day jobs.  You could also stress the importance of putting your work out there, and not being daunted by rejection, because it happens to everyone. As a bonus morsel, you could add in the usual bit about how the work sometimes finds you, but you have to put yourself in a position to be ready when the opportunities make themselves available to you (insert Matt and Ben example here).  I have no idea why I get so hocked off when I hear MK give dismissive responses to these sorts of questions.  I’m just going to blame the half-or-kind-of South Asian sisterhood, and call it a day.