find your beach

Or, things I have been doing instead of sewing.

  1.  My Face

Really, my head, if you include my hair.  I remember when I bought my first bottle of cleanser.  This was probably eight years after I needed to.  Suddenly, my unibrow was the most prominent part of my face, not its light-reflective sheen.  Sigh.  Well, let’s just say, those were simpler times.

Now, I slough and balm and tone and peel and thread.  I don’t apply sunscreen, I anoint myself with it.  I stand on my tippy toes to tightline, wiggle-and-pull, and pat-not-rub my way into. . .looking potentially marginally better?  Who’s to say?  Well-meaning friends and strangers tell me that my skin looks great.  I think that’s cute.  Until someone is following you around trying to capture your essence in an amulet, there is room for improvement.

First Wives Club - Fill 'Em Up
Can we please agree that First Wives Club is the only film worth watching?

I have to say, the meticulousness one can bring to beauty and hair/skincare taps into the exact same part of my brain that sewing does.  There’s also a little bit of hopefulness to it.  You can never actually see yourself, your face especially, unmediated by something else.  It’s sort of. . .unsettling that just about everyone else can spot you from head on but you, the same way that, in abstract, most people don’t truly choose their own clothes.  With skincare, I suppose one could be putting on a mask to make outside match in, or maybe to protect the you you want to keep from the impressions and projections of the viewing public.  Petals on a wet, black bough comes to mind, oddly.

Nothing if not a sanctimonious jerk, I feel compelled note:  I don’t really think of taking care of myself, aesthetically, as self-care.  Audre Lorde would probably not come sit on the edge of my bathtub and listen to me kvetch about another well-paid, organic, grass-fed day at my moderately stressful job, after which I clocked maybe a whisper of time helping someone who isn’t me or doesn’t sign my paychecks.  I do massage my stress frowns as I listen to NPR in these troubling times, but I get the sense that doesn’t count.

2.  Art, maybe?

Look, reader, I don’t have the necessary degree of dirty-mirror-selfie earnestness to say, “Art moves the mind.  I try to spend every day experiencing more of it.”  Because, well, no.  HOWEVER, I went from a lifetime of pooh-poohing modern art and a few years of relegating myself to the west wing of the National Gallery of Art to being a person who actually cares about art and contemporary artists.

I went through the same thing with books a few years ago.  I think some people genuinely prefer things made by the dead.  That’s cool.  Others might be afraid to admit to liking (or even trying) something without years (decades?) of a well-respected chorus supporting them.  Also cool.  I just started to feel like I was doing a disservice to the present in a weird way.

Anyhoo, I’ve appreciated and loved work like Hormazd Narielwalla’s—he uses vintage and contemporary Savile Row tailoring patterns and makes the most stunning collages.

3.  Reading Watching television as I lie near-comatose in bed

I never used to understand the appeal of this, and yet, here we sit.

4.  Learning to ride a bicycle

Marx Brothers on a bike
Night at the Opera promo. I still say that probably would go better for them than bike-riding went for me.

Funny story.  I did not know how to ride a bicycle until this past December.  I suppose funny in this instance is tinged with equal parts sadness and amazement.  Have you heard about all of the differing pedagogical thought when it comes to adult bicycle riding?  Well, get comfortable, because I have.  I left my second group class with the local bicyclists association crying because I was regressed back to one pedal!  One pedal!  This was my emotional and moral nadir of H2 2017, in case you were curious.  I took my wounded pride and sniffles into a bicycle shop, determined to get my own effing wheels and teach myself.  That’ll learn ’em.  (Spoiler:  It won’t.)

Then, horrified at the idea of an enormous decorative piece of steel taking up valuable floorspace in my matchbox-sized apartment, I [lowers head] sought private instruction.  On two Saturdays in a freezing cold parking lot of a part of DC that has no name, a very nice man (from REI, to be clear, I did not solicit a stranger) set up halved tennis balls and caution cones and everyone emerged unscathed.  That and I can kind of ride a bike now.  Sort of.

Hm.  I do have a (forgotten, but coming in the nick of time) one-on-one with Kenneth King scheduled for Sunday.  (I know.  I must have been in a deliriously treat-yourself mood in November.)  We’re going to draft a trouser block.  Maybe there’s hope for me yet?

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conversations with other women

A little over a year ago, a woman came up to me with a cat in her arms.  His name was Sly (Silver Sylvester, for long), and I’d be doing her a favor by taking him.  Now then, I’d known someone with a cat called Sly and have a complete inability to say no to this sort of thing, so I took him home.  Obviously, he’d have to be called Clive.  Obviously.

Spot Clive.
Spot Clive.  Also, tell me what you do with the crappy books you get as presents from family members who are all, “You like books.  Here is a book!”

I’m reading a book for class and this book references all three other books I’m reading right now, and every non-contemporary novel on my wee summer bookshelf.  (The Protagoras, Portnoy’s Complaint, and The Recognitions; for class, on the go, and for fun, respectively.)

My friend was at a used book sale and found a one of those fill-in journals.  She flipped open the book and the first name she saw was of one of her closest advisers in undergrad.

I play this game all the time.  Aren’t I lucky to have stormed out of my editorial meeting early and to have been given Clive?  Isn’t my life the perfect example of how we can’t escape intertextuality?  How funny it is, the way things work.

***

I called my mother the other day, and one of my aunts answered the phone.

F.: Hello, Bunny!  Your mummy is on the road.  Is there anything you need?

Me: Oh, well, my roommates found a gigantic waterbug, and we’re unsure of how to proceed.

F.: Get a gun and shoot it.

***

After coming in from a weird, aggressive stand-off with a chestnut-hued squirrel in my backyard.

Me: K., I think the squirrel in the yard wants to kick my ass.  Or maybe he had rabies.  Not sure.

K.: Maybe he’s had a hard life.

I put some almonds in the yard for the squirrel, contrite.

***

Oh?  Me?  Just hanging out on this fence, watching you work, not in a menacing way or anything.
Oh? Me? Just hanging out on this fence, watching you work in what’s basically a blurry, bodega security cam photo.  Not in a menacing way or anything.

Me: So, I’ve been getting followed around by these huge black birds.  I’m not sure if they’re rooks or crows.

Mummy: Maybe they like you!

Me: They blocked my path on the way to the coffeeshop, sat beside me in front of the student center, and now they’re in my backyard!  One swooped down right in front of the window when I was writing my paper!

Mummy: Did you say hello?

Me: They’re PORTENDS!  Maybe I’m dying.

Mummy: Maybe you’re not being friendly enough, love.

***

Me: My roommates were gone for the weekend and I got home super late and there was an unwrapped, unrolled condom under my bed.  It wasn’t there before, all of our doors and windows were locked, and I left the house after everyone else.

My dean: Talk to housing.

***

Me: [forwards email to housing]

[one week elapses]

Housing: Thanks for letting us know.  We’ll alert the supervisor.

***

This morning.  I wake up to a riot of crows (rooks?) squawking outside my door.  They have eaten the squirrel’s almonds.  (I live in the basement and have my own entrance.)

Anyone familiar with the famous legend of the unrolled condom, insects, arachnids, and/or glimmer murder of crows?  I’d be thrilled to know.  I hope this answers any “Why don’t you blog more often/answer emails/acknowledge my existence?” questions, friends.  Obviously, I’m here, awake, not dying of a rook attack.  Obviously.

break it down

I have midterms and am using that as an excuse to be an awful person.  Last one (actually, two) are on 2 November.

Um, see you then?  Maybe?  I have stress-purchased (all of the) shoes and eaten (all of the) sweets.  So I think I might have more compelling outfit photographs.  I shall be the size of the Michelin Man.  (But with cute shoes!  And parentheses!)  Optimism, people.  We’ve got optimism.

homogeneity

I have a sewing schedule.  Tis marvelous.  Tis also something I drafted while procrastinating, but whatever.  It exists, it lives, I know when I get to sew.  Huzzah!  I won’t be able to actually sew until I go home this weekend.  Boo!  (Paper writing and studying oddly have to take priority.  The universe, she is cruel.)

I’ve spent this whole weekend grappling with the fact that I am not Zooey Deschanel and therefore cannot do things like, I dunno, wear Oxfords with a dress and cardigan and call it good.  Or can I?  I was trying to make a project list and get a good handle on the things I actually need for the fall (trousers and warm dresses and cardigans, oh my).  There are looks that I really want to try and color combinations I really want to experiment with, but I wonder if I’ll look absurd.  Then again, when else will I be able to have this much sartorial freedom?  My day-to-day life involves little to no physical stress, there’s no dress code, I don’t have any sort of commute.

Then again (again), I’ve never seen so many blondes and bros assembled in one place in my entire life.  Seriously.  Everyone’s style seems to bob within the same margins without very much room for outliers.  Sperrys, Jack Rogers, TOMS, The North Face, Vineyard Vines, school-branded merch, Longchamp bags, lather, rinse, repeat.  I imagine spring will bring out the Lilly and Oxford cloth shirts and maybe even the dreaded popped collar.  It’s sort of disconcerting.  No one shows up for class in pajamas, even at 8am.  I rarely see a woman not wearing at least a little makeup.  People have time to do things to their hair.  Everyone seems to be constantly exercising or in exercise clothing.  I, um, don’t do that.  Well, I have the Longchamp totes (they’re nylon and easy and I’ve been using them for a decade), but other than that I just kind of throw on whatever I find that’s semi-clean and go from there.  I go to the library instead of the gym and delude myself into thinking that walking everywhere somehow compensates for it.

I often talk to my roommate S. about this.  She mentioned that she would totally wear knee-high riding boots, but come fall everyone on campus sports them.  I almost feel damned both ways.  What’s the worse fate: Feeling obliged to throw on fleece and sandals to fit in, or going against your own style just for the sake of non-conformity?  There is, of course, a third option: Wearing what you’d like and completely ignoring what everyone else is doing.  However, isn’t that just on this side of impossible?  Style osmosis is absolutely a thing.  I’m actively afraid that I’ll get conditioned to believe that such a high concentration of sameness is normal.  I also worry about how it will impact my style (precious commodity that it is).  (That was sarcasm.)  The sameness issue spills out into areas that are beyond the scope of this here blog.

I don’t know.  This is all rather inconsequential and adolescent-sounding, isn’t it?  I don’t know why it feels so terribly important, but it does.  Blargh, maybe I just need some sort of inspiration that I’m not finding here?  Off to get a bagel and watch a math video.  (The fun, I have it.)