Blog finds

I’ve been really getting into the sewing blogs lately, trying to motivate myself to make more things. It’s sort of working. Here are a couple of blog posts I found around the place that I thought might interest you’all. Definitely worth clicking through to read the rest.

Is sewing really cheaper?

I get asked this question quite often. Or, more frequently, I get told by people that don’t sew that sewing is not cheaper than buying new clothes. My answer to this is usually, “It is for me”. This is for numerous reasons…

You may be able to get a dress cheaper than I can make a dress, but it doesn’t mean that you can get a dress comparable to one I’ve made…I don’t shop at cheap chain stores because I have ethical issues with them but sometimes I buy chain store clothes from the op shop. Quite often these clothes have rarely been worn and some still have their tags attached. I’m pretty careful with my clothes and handwash a lot but I’ve found the quality of most chain store clothes is pretty terrible. I have things that I sewed about four years ago that are still in good condition and that I still wear. Most chain store clothes I buy from the op shop start looking shoddy after a couple of washes (yes, I know they’re already second hand when I buy them, but still).

I find all of the points listed to apply to me, adding in fit and sizing. As I get inevitably larger, it’s harder and harder to find anything for me in shops, at all. Let alone anything that I like, that suits my sense of style, that is affordable and of an acceptable quality. I’m trying to bear this in mind as I attempt to make more clothes – sure, the stuff I make isn’t perfect, and that can be discouraging. But it’s much better made than the things I could buy RTW, besides being better fabric and more ‘me’. Generally, anyway.

Heterormativity in fashion blogs

The assumption is made, both in the blogosphere and in any other aspect of life, that an individual is heterosexual and cisgendered until they say otherwise. And to identify as anything other than utterly normative in terms of gender and sexuality requires this whole process of interpellation and subjectification that is kinda ridiculous. I never have to announce myself as a straight person. But because fashion blogging is often intertwined with lifestyle, mentioning ‘me and my boyfriend went opshopping today’ is totally innocuous. But if a female blogger mentions she and her girlfriend, it’s suddenly perceived as political, or making a statement…Studies have repeatedly shown (and I can give you sources, if you want) that members of the LGBT community read blogs and participate actively in the internet at a significantly higher level than straight-identifying individuals, so why is the LGBT presence in fashion blogging so weak? And why are there so many engrained conventions that prioritise heterosexual long-term cohabitation as the holy grail of all relationships in the grand hierarchy of what is legitimate and what isn’t?

I think I should mention here that I identify as queer, since I outed myself in the comments on that post. Is this awkward? PROBABLY!

In other news, yesterday I found some sewing patterns in my size in an op shop. This doesn’t happen so often, so I bought them. The lady serving me was trying to make small talk, and asked me ‘so, what are you going to make with THESE?’ I… am not sure she really understands the concept of a ‘pattern’. Probably a dress. Similar to the one pictured on the front of the packet, I’d hope. I didn’t say that, though, I said ‘A mess, probably’.

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Some things

I shaved my legs.  Felt like it.  I re-dyed my hair the other day which necessitated an extra shower.  Usually I just have one in the morning, and cannot be bothered shaving then – if I even remember!  But I was primping, and I felt like it, so I did.  I think when I re-dye my hair is about the right length of time, actually, between shaves.  And I also think that that is hopefully the last the internet will hear about my body hair!  No promises, though… Thanks for sharing your own experiences, it was really interesting to hear about other people’s ‘normality’.

These photos are from a walk from my work into town.  I’ve done it a few times, and it’s a lovely way to end the day.  I have to catch a bus in to town and back out again.  Which is fine if I catch the first bus, but if I miss it (and it’s usually early, so I usually do) I spend 15 minutes waiting at work, and then miss my connection in town and so spend another 15 waiting there.  Walking takes me about an hour (I dawdle) and I find I don’t get home much later at all.  Plus, I am feeling very slothlike at the moment.  Not much movement going on, and I feel lumpy and ungainly.  I know this is a recurrent theme – I don’t blog about it when I’m active and enjoying it!  Just when I’m lazy and lumpy.  I’ve been getting more migraines too, which I think is mostly because I need new glasses badly, but also because of my inactivity.

Anyway, it’s a nice walk form work to town.  Through old suburbs, but not posh ones.  So lots of old cottages and semi-detached houses, and rambling gardens.  I wish I could photograph the serenity and overall sense of life humming along that exists along those back streets.

I had two 21sts on the weekend.  One was in North Adelaide, and I walked with friends from the pub to my bus, a couple of blocks away.  The houses.  Were MENTAL.  There were libraries and grand pianoes and crazy columns.  I mean, obviously I knew some people lived like that.  But in Adelaide?  I don’t know why there shouldn’t be showy rich people in Adelaide.  It just seemed so alien and weird and… unreal.  I had to wonder about the people who live in those houses. What are their lives like?  Do they pick up their own underwear?  Who cleans the toilet and picks up discarded magazines from the floors?

The other 21st was my cousin’s – the one whose mother just died.  I knit her two shawls.  We had it at my childless Aunt and Uncles.  Their house is luxurious in a less crazy way (although, the BATHROOM!).  Uncle D was heard to worry about his white carpet with the crazy kids.  He needn’t have worried.  The only damage to the carpet was my wretched aunt.  She got SLAUGHTERED and trod chocolate cake into the carpet, as well as having the same conversation with me about six times.  The party was nautical themed.  S wen’t as a pirate, and was generally very well recieved by those members of the family who hadn’t met him.  I also went for a swim – it was down near the beach where I used to live.  It was absolutely freezing, and it was glorious.  My mother came as a porthole and was a general downer.

I had a run in with a workmate about Fat Acceptance.  She commented on something over at Fat Lot of Good, and then we had a ‘discussion’ about it.  It was all very polite – although we both got quite red faced about it.  Thank goodness we are white and repressed and can pretend to be nice to each other!  Anyway, I was proud of myself for actually having the discussion, but it also left a sour taste in my mouth.  She pulled many of the classic cards – costing the health system, for example.  I just didn’t know how to argue well if we disagreed with two main points: 1) fat is not the same as unhealthy; unhealthy people are not all fat; all fat people are not unhealthy; you can be healthy and fat and 2) other people’s health and decisions are NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.  I am trying to remember, because I know that not that long ago I hadn’t processed the thought that it was ok to choose to be fat.  I can’t remember what that feels like. 

I know better, but I still get surprised when my real life world is not as nice and caring as my internet world.  It sounds funny to say so, considering what most of the internet is like.  But my corner of the internet is lovely.  It has all of you in it!  And we share stories and are polite and generally validate each other and are nice, even if we don’t understand each other’s take on things.  And the places I go regularly, like Tiger Beatdown and Kate Harding’s site (Shapely Prose, you are missed) are generally accepting, even when they are angry.  I spent last Friday afternoon watching ‘it gets better’ videos (I recommend the Dan Savage and Tim Gunn ones), and found Ivan E. Coyote and devoured her videos.  What a fantastic storyteller!  What a lovely world, where people are people, just themselves, whatever that looks like.  And then I went out into the real world, where people were making gay jokes and generally being dickheads.  It was a rude shock, I tell you!  No wonder I am an introvert.

However!  Craft camp is this weekend!  I need a holiday, some sleepins and some days spent luxuriously making things in company of my Tribe.  I am looking forward to everything about it, but when I think about the people… well.  I am excited, that is all.  I can’t wait to see my crafty friends.  Christmas was never this exciting, I swear!

Presentation and performing

One of the phrases that is used alot in the feminist blogosphere is ‘performing femininity’.  Or gender, or sexuality, or anything. It’s one of those phrases that can start to sound pat and meaningless, but it’s one that sticks with me, that I think about all the time.  Performing rather than experiencing.  When is performing good and fun, and when are we obliged to do it for society’s sake, making it often tiring and oppressive?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to femme it up.  And butch it up, frankly, as my weekend’s experience with power tools showed.  It’s just that, more often than not, I cannot be bothered.  I do not naturally fit the modern day requirements for femininity – as most people don’t.  Well, I have shapely eyebrows that don’t require plucking.  But that’s about it.  I have dark hair, I have a shadow moustache and my legs look prickly an hour after I shave, my hair is naturally limp and uninteresting and if I wear eyeshadow my eyelids itch and I rub it all over my fave in ten minutes anyway.  And while I am enjoying longer hair and the opportunity to do interesting things with it, I am also constantly cheesed off with it – at how much time and effort it is to make it do what I want it to.  And then I can’t, like… move my head quickly or whatever.  Which is boring.  So it does, more often than not, end up in a ponytail.  That’s a compromise I’m happy with.  I now own both a hair dryer and a curling iron, although I have admitted that they will be used once a month at most.  When I want to perform.  Which is not every day.  I think that’s part of the reason I like having blue hair – it always looks like I’ve put some effort in, however minimal.  And it takes me out of one performance category and into another.

I haven’t shaved my legs in about a month, though.  Today I am wearing knee socks, and you can see my heairy knees peeking over the top.  I wore shorts all weekend (with birkenstocks, no less, hello new stereotype).  I didn’t do this on purpose – it was winter and I couldn’t be bothered, and then I got some eczema on my legs so I thought I’d better not.  And before I got around to doing anything about it, I read this post from definatalie.  And I started to think about it.  Why do I shave my legs?  Lots of reasons.  I think I have decided not to shave my armpits or nair off my moustache anymore.  But the legs?  It’s confronting.

The week after I read Definatalie’s post, I said to S ‘I think I might stop shaving my legs’.  He said ‘ok’.  Like you might say if someone told you they thought their favourite colour was now blue instead of green.  I mean, that was pretty much the reaction I expected, and I don’t need permission anyway.  But it’s nice to be validated, I guess.  His response, when pressed was ‘well, you’re  a mammal’.  Which I think is an excellent phrase that I might need stitched onto a cushion.  (You’re a mammal.  Get over it.)  His other contribution, when I said I wasn’t sure if this was a Thing for me, was that I don’t have to decide.  I mean, obviously.  But I feel like I have to.  Like I am required to pick which team I belong to, or something.  But I am not sure, yet, whether this is a ‘I NEVER shave my legs’ stance, or a ‘I don’t, unless I have a reason to do so’ or even ‘I do it whenever I feel like it’.  Fine distinctions, maybe.  But somehow I feel like they’re important.

I think it’s because I feel like people make certain assumptions, if your legs are not shaved.  Not all of those assumptions would be wrong about me, but I am not sure I wish to place myself so heavily in whatever camp that puts me in.  On the other hand, who cares?  They’re legs, I’m a mammal, people can either get to know me and work out which assumptions are right and wrong, or not.  It’s not like I’m not going to get a job because I have hairy legs, or people will refurse to serve me at shops.  And, anyway, I already have blue hair.  I am CLEARLY a freak (I love my blue hair).  Then again, and this is more relevant, I feel a bit… ungroomed.  Scruffy.  I pretty much live in skirts, although not recently since I got too fat for them – but then my jeans have all worn out in the thighs, so I am back to skirts.  And skirt mean exposed legs.  And to me, exposed legs mean smooth, clean shaven legs.  I have yet to work out if this is because that is what I have been taught, or because it’s what I like, for myself. I almost shaved this weekend, when I knew it was going to be warm and I’d be in shorts.  And then I decided to wait and see.  Because maybe I am just unused to looking at it.

I feel a bit daft, writing an angsty post about my leg hair.  Like, welcome to the party, young one.  Also, get over yourself.  But I think it’s not too frivolous (almost, though) because my main sticking point is what it makes me look like.  To others, and also to myself.  I’m waiting to figure out what that is, and how I feel about it.  Meanwhile, my temperature is better regulated, and I have more time in the mornings, so I’m sort of happy with that.  Also, no stubble!  That bit is great.

In a semi-related note, you should go read Frances’ post about her bikini.  And look  at her fabulous, kick arse photos.  I want to give her a big hug because of that last photo.  Fabulous! I am determined to buy myself a bikini this summer.  I have a sensible swimming one piece, that is thick proper material and holds all the bits in appropriate places.  But I was a bikini so I can go to the beach and just hang out.  S burns in about 30 seconds (seriously, we went out yesteray and I could SMELL his head burning.  It was pretty gross), so I forsee many twilight swimming sessions.  So I’m not worried about skin exposure and cancer, in my bikini.  And I REFUSE to have any body hang ups about this.  So there.  Do you hear me?  REFUSE. The last time I had a two piece (actually, the first time, too) I would have been 13.  And about five adults told me ‘well, good for YOU’.  Which I found confusing, because I hadn’t realised it was a Thing, yet.  Anyway.  The point is, I am going to get my belly out this summer. I just have to deal with the expense.  Oh, nice things.  Why do you cost so much, always?

Real life

I’ve been thinking lately, idly, about real life and blogs.

When does your real life make it onto your blog?

It’s a weird thing.  Because blogs are sort of in between.  Ok, sometimes I blog about my lunch, but usually it’s not the day to day stuff I blog.  It’s the abstract thoughts or particular events.  Not the things that you see if you live with me every day.  Not the hanging up socks and mopping the floor, or the sitting on my bum looking at the floor and thinking ‘hmm, I really should mop that’. 

It’s almost exactly the things that don’t get seen, that I blog.  The things I think about while I mop.

So what happens when something big happens?  Good or bad?  You have a death in a family or you get sick, you start a new relationship or have a baby. You buy a house or lose it to a fire.  How does that make it onto the blog?  There’s often a disconnect – those are the times that you are too busy dealing with your life – good and bad – to want to sit down at a computer and talk about it, even though you might be dying to tell everyone.  Or even though you feel like those other people, who are in your life because of this wonderful thing that is the internet, deserve to know about it.  I consider many of you much closer friends, who know me much better, than the people I see everyday at the office.  But they often know far more about what I did on the weekend than you.  They don’t know what it meant to me, but they know what I did.

What about privacy?  What do you not want to tell the internet?  I’ve had a few chats with a couple of non-bloggy friends, including S.  They don’t read my blog, and I like it that way.  It feels… intrusive.  Intimate.  Exposing. 

Maybe it’s partly because they don’t have a blog, so it’s not reciprocal.  It would just be them, staring into however many years of my thoughts and whims.  The things I am proud of in the moment that look silly, two years later.  The resolutions I made that only lasted a month.  The thoughts I thought (like this one) were deep, but turn out just to be idle musings.

It’s not like there’s anything in my blog that I wouldn’t, and haven’t, talked about with them.  In fact, they get the more detailed, custom fitted versions.  On the same vein, there are plenty of things that I am happy to email or chat about to all of you that I wouldn’t put on my blog – or might put a different way, filter through something.

But often that means, I think, that people feel like they can’t put real things on their blog.  It feels like whinging, or bragging.  Like you are asking for help or attention, when all you really want is somewhere to put it all.  And, yes, maybe someone to hear you. 

And it means that often, when you stumble accross a blog, you have no idea what the life behind it is like.  The blog might be full of pictures of happy crafts and smiling children, but that doesn’t mean that person’s life is happy and whole.  Or a blog where the person talks about being depressed doesn’t mean that their life is ALL about that, and there is never any sunshine.  It can be misleading, like a zoomed in photo of the one corner of a room that’s clea and tidy.  And I think it leads us to judge ourselves by false measures.  To think that if our life doesn’t look like that all the time, it’s not as good or as happy.  And then we find ourselves both trapped on either sides of a glass that we both helped to make, but never wanted.

Another post with a hanging conclusion.  Ok, how’s this.  What things would you NEVER EVER blog.  I would never ever blog about my sex life.  I feel like I’m walking a line blogging about S, even – about my personal romantic life.  I think if I had kids, that would be a really tricky one – how much of their story is mine?  How much of my story am I allowed to tell?  I would never blog, in depth, about someone else’s grief or hurt, unless I could do it in an abstract, this made me think, type way. 

What do you wish you blogged more of?  I feel like a lot of the interesting things never make it onto my blog – for instance, last weekend we went to the Roller Derby Grand Final, four adelaide teams played off, and it was SO GREAT.  But by the time we got home I was getting sick and now I’ve lost the impetus to talk about it.

How about you all?

10 years is a long/short time. Circle the appropriate one.

I was readings someone’s blog and they did a meme which started with ’10 years ago, I was…’

Ten years ago, I was 16.  I know, right?  I was, exactly 10 years ago, right in the middle of my exchange to China.  I was living in a forieng country, eating with chopsticks, trying to do maths WAY above my level (after a certain point I just sort of stopped bothering to go to class) and, for the first time, I wasn’t living with my mother.

I have such vivid memories of that time.  Not complete, but vivid.  Smells and sounds and sights.  Sitting at the hot pot restaraunt eating good food with the foriegn teachers and drinking pepsi or beer.  Going into the city to the japanese supermarket and getting crepes (which I will still make myself sick on, for nostalgia’s sake).  The dorm room (I stayed at a boarding school) and going home to stay with my dorm mates on weekends.  Their crazy rich parents.  The boy who asked me to be his ‘Australian girlfriend’ and how completely disinterested I was.  The impassioned farewells and greetings and letters and emails from my friends at home.

It seems so close and so far away at the same time.  It definitely happened to someone else, someone who isn’t me anymore.  And yet, at the same time, I recognise myself so fully in some of those memories.  It was a weird moment of vertigo, especially when I realised that I am wearing a jumper today that I bought on that exchange trip.

All I can really say, to sum it up, is that I am so, so glad to be where I am now.  That the 16 year old me couldn’t have dreamt of this life I live now – one in which I am, most days, happy.  She didn’t know that it was an option.

  And I am sad when I think about her, and so pleased to be able to tell her, the bits of her that still make me up, that we did it.  We made an awesome life, with the help of some lovely wonderful people we met along the way, and a whole lot of luck.

Gosh, I’m deep this week, aren’t I! 😉

Public Transport Roulette

You sure do get to interact with some interesting people, when you catch public transport!

I catch a bus into town, and then a bus out to get to work.  Because of the way the Adelaide public transport system is set up, this is the only possible way – everything goes into the city and back out again.  I used to like a 10 minute drive from work but it took me about an hour bussing because I had to go in a long pointy triangle.  This morning, I missed my connection by about a minute, as usual, so I was settled in at the bus stop in town to wait.  There were only two people on the bench, as usual, and they were all spread out along it, as usual.  I barged in anyway, as usual.  Unusually, one of the people – a man – said ‘oh, sorry!’ and smiled at me as he moved his stuff.  This man was WELL bogan.  He was dressed neatly, but his hoody had a Jack Daniel’s logo on the front.  The was carrying an iced coffee and smoking, and his teeth were almost completely rotted away.

A couple minutes later, he turns to me and asks if I can hear him (I had my earphones in) and if it’s ok to interrupt.  I say, of course!  and he asks a question about what bus goes where.  I’m not sure of the answer but a primary schoolgirl does and she chimes in.  After she left to catch her bus, the bogan dude asked me, wasn’t she lovely and friendly?  He had no tickets on himself, most kids would be scared of him (he bared his teeth at me) but she was a bright spark, so helpful and non-judgemental.  Then he asked me why I knit, was it to relax?  Seems like a good hobby – you get clothes at the end of it!  And then we had a lovely conversation about coffee and knitting and hobbies and the weather.  I got the impression that he was just a lovely, open person.

I get on the bus, which is the same one he’s catching.  We don’t sit together, though, which I sort of appreciate – you know when you talk to someone at the bus stop and then they never leave you alone ever again? (Like last week, when I got the paranoid woman who thought someone had followed her into town to bash her – well, maybe they had, I don’t know her life.) The bus I catch to work is also the airport bus, so there are always a lot of people who don’t catch buses much on it, looking uncomfortable and lugging huge suitcases.  I sit on the back-to-back seats in the middle, and behind me are a posh old lady and her posh son.  From overhearing their conversation I can tell you that they are going up to Brisbane to go to a remembrance ceremony for a hospital ship that was sunk in the war, which has just been found.  The posh old lady’s dad sunk with it.  When I sit down, she is saying ‘She married Jim Butterworth, you know’ and telling a story about how he was an engineer who had however many children and a story about him falling through the second floor of a derelict building.

Favourite overheards from this couple:

Her She has three sons, you know.  Well, two professional sons.  The other one is a painter.  He paints houses.

Him: Oh, THAT kind of painter!  Haha!  Not an artiste! (He really truly said ‘artiste’)  (also, I bet the painter son earns more and is a happier, nicer person, you old bag, I don’t know where you get off implying that the man only has two sons, because one of them does a real job.  Grrrr.)

Him: Those school children don’t look happy, do they?

Her: Shakespeare spoke about a schoolchild, going reluctantly to school.

PAUSE

Him: oh?

Him: I am surprised that they sent all the kids to Catholic schools
Her: They chose them because they are cheapah.

There were plenty more of that type, but I can’t remember them all.  She had that kind of artificially plummy voice that slips when she has to raise it, as she did on the rattly bus.  You could hear how she would practially hiss at you, if she were mad.  And she said ‘Mercedes’ like ‘Meerceedees’, which seemed a bit ridiculous to me… but what do I know?  I’m not posh.  In a nicely timed lull in their conversation, I could hear my bogan friend up the back, on the phone to his son.  He was telling him how much he loved him, that he couldn’t wait to go fishing with him again, that his ‘little mate’ should be nice to his mum, cos she’s going through a rough patch, and that he’d see him soon, and how MUCH he loved him.

I know which chance encounter I’d rather be friends with.

Dammit

I was chatting to a friend and to demonstrate a point which I can’t remember anymore I showed her this.

It’s Sweet Honey in the Rock singing verses from Khalil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’.  Those two things have a whole bunch of associations for me, but the base line is, I love this song a whole, whole lot for so many reasons.

Anyway, later in the day I was thinking about it as regards me and my own mother, and whether it’s still relevant (conclusion: yes).  And I had a moment where I just intensely missed my dad.  The first one without grief all tied in.  The kind of missing you might do if someone were overseas, or you just hadn’t had a chance to catch up for a while.

And then of course I was even sadder afterwards.  Because I am sort of used, now, to the emotion of missing my dad with anger and grief mixed in, or for feeling bad for missing my dad because he made dealing with my mother easier, or any of those things.  But I am not used to missing my dad in a way that makes me think ‘I should call him’.

Clearly, I cannot call him.

And I am angry that, because of the way he chose to leave us, and because of my mother, it has taken me TWO YEARS to be able to just miss him.  To just want to hear his voice and share a joke with him, without any other emotional meaning behind that impulse.

There we go.  Anger AND grief.  That’s more familiar…