ceci ce n’est pas une poste*

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.

drumroll, please. . .

The winner is Hanne!  Huzzah for Hanne!

I chose the most aesthetically pleasing generator.  You can either judge me, or the number-generating community and their hideous interfaces.
I chose the most aesthetically pleasing generator. You can either judge me, or the number-generating community and their hideous interfaces.

Hanne, I shall email you (or you can email me).  I am super tired, and will say more tomorrow.  Antwerp!  I wish I could accompany the package.

one ring to rule them all

It’s our blogiversary, reader.  Perhaps it’s not?  Maybe you’ve been kicking around here for six months, or a few days?  Minutes, even?  I’m not quite sure what to do with this time (or this space), but I’m beyond certain that it’s more ours than mine.  Sometimes, I feel that I owe you a bit more than you get; others, I acknowledge that maybe our silences and missteps are more telling than the actual posts.

I just feel responsible for. . .more.  I wash my hair and in my head write beautiful, moving posts about body image, scholarship and creativity, contemporary feminism and femininity, and the sewing world at large.  Then I dry my hair and leave the posts behind.  Tree, forest, etc.  Maybe that’s for other blogs to do?

Sometimes I’m a bit ashamed of my sewing.  Not just because I have so very many wadders (which is more about my shameful fitting), but rather because I occasionally have a hard time reconciling blogging with Serious Writing and sewing with Art.  (Caps!)  On the other hand, I feel such a responsibility to you, reader, and would rather not waste your time with experiments.

The other day, I was thinking about starting a second blog (because I take such excellent care of this one, of course).  Just a repository for my random thoughts, some life photos, etc.  Then I realized that would be called a journal, and is probably something that doesn’t need to be on the Internet.  Of course, you would make the difference, reader.  The reason why I stick around here, and squint and cock my head and try to figure out how to make this work in my head, is you.  I so love your writing and sewing, and want to do. . .that.  All of that. Often, I sit back with a cup of tea and flip through the evil old stat counter, just to see where y’all are from, and wonder what it must be like in Sitka, Alaska, and if you’ve ever read Yiddish Policemen’s Union.  I travel around a lot, and go to a lot of different schools, but there’s a certain loneliness I’ve been able to avoid, because of you.

Enough with the anxiety and schmaltz, now I shall offer to give you things.

The Giveaway: Whatever the hell I feel like giving you, based on our conversations or our post-giveaway emailing.

Rules: One entry per person, please.  Please do leave a way for me to contact you somewhere (anywhere), and be willing to email with me for a spell, especially if you’re blogless.  There are kinder, more charitable bloggers who will totally go through and weed out commenters who’d rather not be entered before drawing a winner.  I’m not one of them.  You comment, you’re in.  Hell, if you don’t comment, but have commented, you’re also in, because I like giving things away.  (Fine, maybe not the last sentence, but still.)  I ship anywhere in the world, but you are responsible for any duties incurred.  I’m not mailing any Fabergé eggs, so not to worry on that front.

The giveaway closes at 8pm on Sunday, 9 June and I’ll announce a winner on Monday, 10 June.  Naturally, the Random Number Generator rules them all.  I’m back home on that weekend, so your prize will likely ship the following Sunday or Monday.  No, I won’t give you the money instead.  If you are related to me, you may not enter.  (Talking to you, cats!)

So, how about you leave a comment below, telling me all about the best thing you’ve read lately (books, articles, blogs, cereal boxes, and all that jazz)?

build a better blogger

The good news: I’ve found my Meringue (covered in cat hair), my trouser muslin, and my failed attempt at pattern drafting!

The meh news: Work has been busy (good for me, though!) and I have two exams and a twenty-plus proof problem set coming up.  Also, my building management has decided to make all of my apartment repairs at the same time and there are literally piles of stuff in the center of every room as walls get plastered and grout gets, er, grouted.

In any event, I’ll probably see you in a week.  Cool?  I think that on my About page I really have to make clear that I am not to be counted on for consistent blogging.

benjamin franklin can kiss my grits. also, there are probably typos here.

If you were to ask me on Friday what the best part of Saturday would be, I would have probably said, “Meeting up with the marvelous bloggers at Lauren‘s thingy.”  Sorry, ladies.  You guys weren’t it.

I was lured to a random hibatchi restaurant on a sketchier stretch of the Harlem/Morningside Heights border.  Which, y’all, as someone who narrates her life in terms of food, is not exactly my favorite idea.  It was one of those painfully interactive places where you have no option but to glare at your server.  (Just me?)  In any event, after an evening of polite refusal I ended up with two filled squirt bottles of sake pointed at my face.  I demurred, and my hibatchi dude insisted, “More sake, more baby.”  You guys.  I have now found my response to every. single. question.

“Would you like fries with that?”
“More sake, more baby.”

“What are your feelings about the sequester?”
“More sake, more baby.”

Naturally, it is also what I will be saying the next time a strange man offers to buy me a drink.  Actually, I might modify it to, “More sake, more baby?”  Because I feel that the question mark adds a particular dignity to it.  As we all know, I ain’t nothing if not a lady.

(In case you were wondering, my old catchall response was, “That’s not Aretha.”  As in, “Want to go the movies?”  “That’s not Aretha.”)

So I made it through today without making a single dick joke.  I patiently await my medal from polite society.  I said a snarky thing once (probably more, but once by my charitable count).  Got accidentally abandoned with Gaby when in search of walrus fabric (and zebras, just generally).  I bought three cuts of fabric.

If I were a better person I’d list everyone’s name, link to their blogs, and be all individually gushy gush.  (God, I feel like I should change my tagline from “A sewing blog without the sewing” to “Do we really even pretend to care at this point?”)  However, I’d like to just make the observation that there seems to be the sewing community and The Internet.  As in, the sewing community is a warm, welcoming enclave in the sea of big bad.  Everyone I met today (erm, yesterday) was so smart and funny and engaged.  Also, because I’m shallow, I’d like to point out that everyone is really pretty.  The aggregate level of attractiveness really turns the sewing hag caricature on her head.  All lovely.

I should show you fabric pictures or my Meringue (which I found folded up with blankets and covered in lint.  Who wins at life?) but I am dog tired.  (This might have something to do with the fact that the bartender did not know how to make a Manhattan, so she just kept giving me three fingers of bourbon with a maraschino cherry dropped in.  In case you were wondering, she is my soulmate.)  Hey, who said I was a good blogger, anyway?

Enjoy the almost-spring.  I’ll be doing it from the library.  The edge, it’s where I live.


Doing maintenance.  If you see random old posts popping up in your reader, my apologies.

Apparently, my old photos got eaten when I disabled my Squarespace account and fully switched over to WordPress.  I’m only just finding the time to fix it.  Progress ahead!

checking in

an actual conversation from my house today:

Me, knitting: Do you know the rats in the park on M Street?  The ones that look like they belong in a Disney movie?

S: Yes.

Me: I feel like I should make them outfits or something.

S: You should; that would be awesome.  What would they be?

Me: I don’t know, I suppose monkey grinders or something.  Wait, that didn’t come out right.  I meant organ-grinding monkeys.

S: Monkey grinders does sound weird.

Me: I wonder what it would be.  Either someone processing monkeys or, perhaps, a band of monkeys who start a new hip-hop dance craze.

Somebody get dear S. a medal for her patience.  The moral/s of the story: I’ve taken up knitting (holla!), I am so tired that all I can talk about is monkeys, specifically Monkey Channing Tatum and Monkey Magic Mike. Because of the storm my last midterm (a paper) was moved to today and I’m plum ready to faint.  By “faint” I mean knit and watch Downton Abbey.  More tomorrow, hopefully.

interstitial programming

​I’m having a big old fight with Squarespace over exportation.  In the mean time, I’ve stumbled over a couple of things I thought you (all?) might like to read.  I certainly did.

Fashion, inflation, and staggeringly expensive wares.  ​

​The actual cost of fashion.

Elizabeth Wurtzel thinks you’re a slob.

Jezebel thinks she’s wrong.​

I like to pretend that I’m Mindy Kaling.​

​I also made a video with an explanation and a marvelous view of my face (which you have yet to see).

There would be more, but I need new eyebrows, some Shake Shack, and a bus down to Washington.​