Friday, November 5, 2010

Positive Thinking, my style

This is the time of year when many or most people start thinking of all the shit they are thankful for.* Bully for them.
I've tried to do that whole positive thinking thing, you know, where every day or week or month or hour you think of things you're thankful for, or things you love, or people that rock your world or whatever.  However.  Even when I try to be positive, most of my thanks are not phrased in a positive way.  Example:

I am thankful that I am not a complete asshole, just a partial one. (Note: this is not necessarily true. It's just a damn example, for christ's sake)


I love the way that the tornado did not knock over my house, but at least it got my idiot neighbor's garage.

So.   Instead, it is easier for me to stay true to myself and think of things that annoy me, because there are so many more of them, and also, because I am having enough trouble making myself write anything let alone blog entries.  I've started and abandoned literally 14 entries in the past month or so,  many of which were thoughtful and touching and funny or at least, long.  Because I keep making the mistake of trying to write things that are either nice, or interesting, or related to my art, or have some kind of value related to personal growth and all of that kind of woo woo self improvement crap.

And who am I fooling?  Really, I'm mostly just rude.  And depressed.  And kind of annoying to be around, most of the time.  I mean for myself.  For other people, I'm not just kind of annoying, I'm pretty much unbearable to be around.  Which is sad, but such is life.

Anyway, it is Nanwrimo, and I signed up again, but here's the thing: I am not so much of a fiction writer.  I can't decide if its because I am so self obsessed that I don't find anyone else, even fictional characters, as interesting as my own mangled brain chemistry, or if because I am too lazy to make up a bunch of stuff and then keep track of all of it since I have a hard enough time keeping track of my real life**.  Or, both.
Okay, probably both.

But, even if I'm not going to write a novel, well, I need to at least write SOMETHING.  Every day, or at least almost every day.  Because supposedly I have all this writing talent and crap and maybe I should use it.  I have lots of talents, most of which go unused or are wildly mis-used. All of that is ok when you are like, 20. Or even 30.  There's all this time, and even if you don't like your job/career/house/friends/life, you still know there's all this time in the future, and that you're still just starting out, and can't be expected to have everything all nice and settled with a great career, spouse, kids, and excellent cable.

Around 35, you start thinking, Huh. I am kind of an adult. What about my career? My personal life? Have I ever owned a decent car or furniture without three previous owners?  Should I breed?  Am I happy with my significant other, or, if single, is it time to stop slutting around and get permanently coupled off?  Am I ever going to go back and get that degree?  Is it time to admit that I might need to stop getting facial tattoos since that one I got on my cheekbone is suddenly near my jawline?  And if you haven't done any of these things, by 35, you realize, Whoa. I need to either do it or realize it isn't happening.

Okay, as should be clear by now, I am not normal people.  I will turn 42 in two months.  And suddenly it occurs to me that not only have I done none of these things, which is fine because I don't care about most of them anymore (if I ever did), but that there are things that I do care about, which I need to, uh, do.  I am making dolls pretty much full time, although I always think I should do more, and I also haven't been beading much at all, which I feel guilty about.  But, the truth is that neither of these things in themselves is ever going to enable me to make anything approaching an actual living wage.

I mean, I might be able, someday, to make as much as I did being a librarian, but I need enough for like, food.

(god it is SO HARD not to put in a comment about how tax caps and republicans will complete the destruction of a profession already committing suicide from within!!)

So. I need to write.  Because as unlikely as it is that I will make a living at it, I might as well add something to my arsenal of unemployability.

Whoa I think I finished this. I think I'm going to post it.  SCORE.

*This week, most of them are probably republicans, but then again, I don't usually count them as "people". But whatever.

**Which is surprising because my "real life" is a pretty lame imitation of one and does not contain much worth remembering in the first place.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


One would think that as someone who works from home, has no social life besides Facebook, and few if any other responsibilities, that I would be able to

1. Blog more than once a month
2. Actually finish some dolls, jewelry, etc*
3. Read books I haven't read before at least four times
4. Read books written for those over 12
5. Bathe regularly
6. And whatever else it is that normal adults do.

Naturally, this isn't the case.  I have started about ten different entries in the past month but have not finished them for many reasons including but not limited to a overage of Oldstime, incredibly ill behaved dogs, and my own fascinatingly fluctuating brain chemistry.

I know that the Olds live here, and that it is technically their home in which they are gracious enough to allow me to live.  But they are here ALL the TIME.  The Oldest Old is retired, and spends a lot of time puttering around his home office, but comes out periodically to chastise me for whatever I am currently doing that does not look worklike to him.  Then he lets out the worst of the three Incredibly Ill Behaved Dogs, pats her on the head, plays with her for 30 seconds until she's in a complete frenzy, and then, as he's running back up the stairs, he yells "Watch that dog for me! Don't put her back in her crate right away!"

Then he disappears for two hours, claiming he is working but quite often is just untwisting paper clips and moving stacks of papers into other stacks and then knocking them over and cursing.  There is a lot of cursing with the Oldest Old.

The Other Old mostly hovers around the foodroom and the adjoining TVroom.   The OldestOld and I have ridiculed her continually for a year now about her soap operas but the thing about the Other Old is that criticism has never had any effect on her.  She is one of those people who does exactly what she likes, and even if you tell her not to, and give her actual reasons why she shouldn't do a certain thing, she will nod, agree, smile sweetly, and then quietly do what she was going to do in the first place.  I don't know why I still find this at all surprising.  She has been this way my, and I'm sure her, entire life.  It is just that she seems so nice while she's doing it that you don't realize that she is completely immune to everyone else's opinions.  I am pretty sure that as she gets older that this will become even more pronounced and annoying than it is now, but the bonus will be the amusement value.

That is the reason that the Olds are actually fun to live with; because they have no idea that anything [let alone everything] they do is completely opposite from how most people do things.  Most people, when the kitchen trashcan is full, will, you know, EMPTY it.  The Olds, though, play a game called  "Whoever Complains Takes It Out".  They have one of those trashcans that slides into the cupboard and looks like a cupboard door.  Which is good because at least when it is full they can't just continue to balance things on top of it until the stack is six feet tall, like they did at our old house.  No, now they just start putting things on the counter right over the trash drawer.  I will walk into the foodroom only to find the trash packed so tightly that the wooden joins of the drawer are straining, and a pile of used paper towel, dried limes, empty jello cups and wine bottles precariously balanced on the edge of the counter.  Oh, and there will also be peanut shells sprinkled through the pile and often in a trail across the floor.   However, if I break and take the trash out, then I lose the game. Also, I'm denied the pleasure of listening to them bicker about taking it out, and then watching when they finally crack and do it.  Because since they both hate to do it so much, they always insist that it is a two person job that both of them must do together.  Of course, I always do it myself.  But I am not [quite] an old.  Yet.


Friday, August 6, 2010

The Fair; In Which We Finally Learn to Add Pictures

Everyone has been asking me how I did at the Monroe County Fair.

Well.  I guess you could say I did well.  Really well, in fact.  I won several ribbons.  Which is an honor, except I'm pretty sure there weren't all that many doll entries, and I don't really know how the judging was done; if they give ribbons solely based on skill, or, say, if there are only three dolls entered in a category that they're all then assured a ribbon.

Clearly, it is a little difficult for me to blow my own horn.  That's why I'm posting all of this here, instead of on Facebook.  That way, if you want to read what I consider bragging* you can choose to do so instead of just having it pop up on your newsfeed.  Also, I spent about two hours taking really bad photos with my iPhone, uploading them to flickr, and then figuring out how to post them here, which I really needed to do.  Sometimes I feel that my rants might be less, uh, intense if I peppered them with a few pictures of kittens and rainbows.

So here are the dolls I entered in the Monroe County Fair this year.

I made this doll from an Antiqueannies pattern.  She is nearly 30 inches tall, made of muslin, and her head, arms, and legs are painted with three coats of black gesso, two layers of acrylic paint, and then treated with a crackle finish.  Under her cotton dress, which is finished with tucks and trimmed with a piece of antique lace, she wears lace trimmed pantalets.  First place.

This doll is made from a Patti Culea pattern, from her first book, Creative Cloth Dollmaking.  Her body is made of collaged fabric with a transfer of my mother's wedding photo on the front. Her legs and arms are also made of the collaged fabric, done by sprinkling odds and ends of glittery yarn, fabric scraps, and other embellishments on a base fabric, covering it with a netting, and then holding it all together with freeform embroidery.  Her hair is made of Tibetan goat fur.** First place.

This Santa is made from a Barbara Willis pattern.  He was not entered in the Fiber Arts Division, but in the Holiday Division.  He has a fully lined jacket, complete with little buttons not visible in the picture, flannel knickers, and black boots made of wool felt. His beard and hair are Tibetan goat, and his eyebrows are bits of the fur that are attached with a felting needle.***  First place.

This little elf is made from Dru Esslinger's Snuffy pattern, which was a Dollstreet online class from at least ten years ago!!  I did enlarge him a bit, and I gave him turned up toes.  He has bells on his toes and his beard and eyebrows are made from acrylic fur. He was also entered in the Holiday Division, under "ornament". First place.

Here's another view of the elf, so that you can get an idea of how small he is:
I can't tell you how many versions of this pattern I've made over the years.  I probably made ten from the original pattern, all of which I gave away as gifts.  Eventually I changed him into more of a christmassy elf with the toes, and I've probably made at least another ten to twelve Christmas ornaments that I've given away.  In fact, this is the ONLY one I still have...and even he is not really mine, but my mom's.  He is sitting in the antique high chair that was my mom's and I think my grandfather's before that.

Something that most people don't know about me is that I started making bears before I made dolls.  In fact, at first I only made dolls so my bears would have someone to sit on!  I started making little bears, mostly out of felt and crappy fake fur from JoAnn's, when I was maybe 13.  The smallest bear I've ever made was about two inches tall.  The biggest one was over two feet tall.  The big one was ruined when my basement flooded several years ago, and the teeny one I still have.  He was made from a kit by Gail Wilson, an amazing doll designer, and years later when she cleaned out her studio, she sold off a lot of older pieces and I was actually able to purchase one of her bears made from that very kit.   Now I only make bears between four and seven inches tall, because I sew my bears completely by hand with a tiny backstitch.  Sewing them on the machine is almost impossible, because the mohair is so thick and it slips.  I use mostly mohair fabric, either the german or english type produced specifically for bearmaking. I also use the woven mohair fabric used for coatmaking, and sometimes wool coating.   Unlike my dolls, I almost never use someone else's bear pattern.  I have very specific features I like in my bears; I like them to be very old fashioned, with long arms, humps in their backs, and fat tummies.  So I started making my own patterns probably 15 years ago....although I have to say, drawing a bear pattern is a LOT easier for me than designing doll patterns.  
I almost never sell my bears.  Most of them live with family or very close, special friends.  No one except other bearmakers or serious collectors understand why they cost so much, so I'd rather give them away to special people.
This panda is made of german mohair, from my original pattern. He is fully jointed, with a hand embroidered nose of perle cotton and german glass eyes on a loop.  He is completely handstitched with waxed thread.  First place with honors.

These two lovely ladies are made from a pattern by Tonya Turvold.  They have painted bodices and shoes of acrylic paint.  I mixed the colors to match the fabrics I used.  Their hair is hand dyed wool.  I call them Chataqua and Susquehannah.  The names just came to me when they were sitting on my sewing table one day awaiting their hair.

First place with honors. Reserve Champion, Doll Class.

This little guy I call the Pied Piper, because of his perfect little flute that I found years ago at World Market.  I kept it because I knew that some day I would need it for a doll, and I did!  The Pied Piper is made from a Marilyn Halcomb design.  She is an Australian designer and often uses a lycra fabric that isn't easily obtainable in the US.  I ordered some of this fabric and had it shipped from Australia.  He has a full wire armature.  His face is needlescupted, and then covered with another layer of  lycra and needlesculpted again.  He has needlesculpted fingers, toes, ankles, and knees....and under his clothes he also has a bellybutton and a really cut little bum!  His hair is hand dyed Australian mohair****, which is the best in the world. 

First place with honors. Champion, Doll Class. Reserve Grand Champion, Fiber Arts Division.

So that was my fair experience.  It was really wonderful, and I'm pleased with all of my ribbons...but as usual, once I'm finished making a piece, I'm ready to move on.  Which is what I should be doing right now!

* I hate bragging.  Really, really hate it.  I think there's a difference between sharing/marketing your work, and just flat out bragging about it.  I'm hoping that I can achieve the former, because I know all too many artists who end up just sounding obnoxious, and so even if I appreciate their work, I can't really like it any more. I'm sure that's wrong of me.  But it is the truth.

**Yes. It is on the pelt. Yes, I feel kind of guilty when I use it.  But I choose to believe [just as I choose to believe that the cows that live in the field near my house are DAIRY cows, even though they periodically all disappear and are replaced with new ones] that since the goats are, um, food in other countries that at least they didn't die to be doll hair, and, um, it is good to not let stuff go to waste??? That's green, right??  Dammit.  I wish it didn't look sooooo perfect on dolls and take dye so beautifully.

*** He also, you may notice, has a golden retriever puppy lurking behind him.  I do not recommend trying to take photos of anything with a golden puppy on the loose, especially one that is as untrained and full of badness as this one.  I was just glad she had stopped trying to EAT the Santa and managed to get a somewhat decent shot while she was taking a bite out of the leg of the antique high chair.

**** Sheared from the angora goat!!  Which does not die, but lives on to be sheared again and again....although the very first shearing is the finest and curliest.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wherein we get craft related

 So, sometimes I have trouble corralling my scattered brain into writing [semi] coherent blog entries.  I usually don't have trouble thinking of things to write about.  Obviously, my preferred topic is Myself. *
 But sometimes, there are things I really shouldn't share, for the sake of my nearest and dearest, my own vague sense of propriety, or because, suprisingly, no one really wants to read about menstrual clots. 
Also sometimes I type an entry all fast and furious and go back and do the pre-pub read and think "Whoa. That is some crazy/mean/unbelievably boring shit, even for me".  So I don't publish it, in the interest of my own personal safety and my continuing desire to not be institutionalized.

But apparently the whole point of this blog thing is to have an interwebs presence, and one that people like reading**.  At some point, once I figure out how to post pictures, I fully intend to concentrate [at least sometimes] on my works in progress, and also amusing/adorable/random photos of my dog. *** On reading through my previous entries, I've also realized that there is a serious dearth of crafty-ness in most of my entries.  Yes.  I really AM that self absorbed, that I can start a blog meant to talk about my OWN work, and yet ignore said work in favor of extreme navel gazing and smart ass remarks. 

So in order to 1. Force myself to write more regularly about 2. Things that do not always have to do with how fabulously insane I am and bring a more 3. Artsy crafty vibe to my posts, I intend to start writing some reviews of craft books.  I used to review books professionally, which in libraryspeak meant that I reviewed them for big name library professional magazines who, in the general spirit of librarianship, did not actually pay you money.  Although, it was totally cool to get so many galleys, and I admit that the first time one of my reviews was quoted on the back cover of the book,  I squealed and jumped up and down in the aisle at Barnes and Noble.

Also, this gives me a totally legitimate excuse to buy more books.  Excellent.

* Fine, it is my ONLY topic.  As if you didn't find me as least as fascinating as I do, if for no other reason than reading my blog makes everyone else feel that much better about their own lives.

** Admittedly, most often because of reasons detailed in the previous footnote, and because they can supply themselves with more blackmail material

*** Amusing, adorable, and very much NOT random to me.  Pretend they are likewise to you.  Remember, if you have children, people have been doing this for you for years.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

ProcrASStination, but for a good reason

Here is something funny.  I have two or three drafts of posts, which I never finished, and two of them have titles like "Procrastination" or "Why I am a lame blogger".  And yet, I never actually posted either of them.  Now I realize it has been a month and a half* since I posted, which is really lame. 

Oh well.  In my defense**, I did have a pretty busy couple of months.  I went back to Ohio for the first time since I moved here last October, but not to Columbus; only to a family reunion in Appalachia***.   It was interesting to meet so many people I didn't know I was related to, and a relief to think that I never have to see most of them again.

Then I came back, picked my dog up from the kennel, and discovered that she was as sick as, well, a dog.  Really. 
She rid herself****of everything she has ever eaten of drunk in her entire life in about two hours, and ended up spending a week at the vet's.  She's fine now, but it was very, very scary. When she was a puppy, she wasted away to almost nothing and nearly died after eating a [live] baby bird, and this was like that.  I can't even talk about how relieved I am that she's fine now, because it makes me sound a little crazy [er].  

 I also had my second farmer's market, where it was so hot I felt my skin melting, but where I talked to a lot of great people, sold some more dolls, and a couple of bracelets. 

I discovered I am allergic to either strawberries or geraniums, by developing a pretty impressive rash, which is now gone, but was not much fun while it lasted.

And, my friend Mary came to visit! 

I have known Mary since we were about two.  Okay, more like ten, but whatever.  We like to say we have been best friends since the third grade, although that is not technically true.  I mean, we would have, if I hadn't lived in Missouri in the third grade, and then later if it weren't for all the clique nonsense in school. In 5th grade, she was in the smart kids class, while I, because I was new, was put in the class with the nasty old nosepicking teacher who told us that boys were evil.

 Mary and I  knew each other in middle school, where I was kind of afraid of her because she really had the preppy look down. Plus, she had way more button-on purse covers than me.  In high school we moved in all the same circles, but she was cooler than me, and I had a boyfriend which meant I ignored all my girlfriends anyway and concentrated only on him which was a totally good idea since we broke up the summer after graduation and I didn't see him again for 11 years.***** 

Luckily, though, when I was home for breaks from college, and then when I was in graduate school for about seventeen years, Mary and I really did become best friends.  The kind of friends who are perfectly happy to hang out and read together [which is one of my favorite qualities in someone], or go out to a bar, or, um, go to Build a Bear at age 41 and spend three hours picking out animals, outfits, and taking full, serious part in the heart ceremony. (No. I will NOT explain it.  Borrow a seven year old and go find out for yourself.)   The kind of friends who are what Anne of Green Gables calls "kindred spirits", where you meet someone once and feel like you've known them all of this life and maybe a few past lives too. That friend who says out loud what you're thinking right at the minute you realize it, and who always calls right at the minute you feel really down.

Anyway, before Mary got here I was a Nervous. Wreck.  Seriously.  When she moved to Seattle something like 15 years ago, I cried for a month.  Which, I probably never told her.   And, being poor AND lame, I have never actually visited her.  Partly it is because I really don't like flying, but a lot of it is because I was kind of scared that I would visit her there and it would be clear that she no longer really needed a breadstick eating reading companion.  Especially once she got married.  I mean, her husband is in a band.  And he's Welsh.  How cool is THAT?  Plus, she, too is a librarian, and a much better and successful one than I ever was. 

So, when she announced her visit, I was SURE that we would find out that we had totally grown apart and had nothing to say to each other anymore.   And also that she would be so sophisticated, vegan, thin, intellectual, and knowledgeable about things like microbrews, Pilates and coffee that we would meet up once and then she would be "too busy" for the rest of the time she was here.  Which, since she was here because of a family member's illness, would have been a totally good excuse and saved us a lot of awkwardness.

Except, of course, it didn't happen like that at all.  We met for coffee (where she drank plain, drip coffee!!So boring and reassuring!) and it was like I saw her yesterday.  I blurted out "OMG I was SO NERVOUS to see you!"  And she said "So Was I!!  I got all dressed up!!"  We dissolved into giggles.  And then we talked solidly for over two hours, and talked really fast because there was so much to fit in.  Driving home afterwards, I kept laughing out loud, because of COURSE I should have known that if I was all nervous, Mary would be too.  

We saw each other several more times over the 10 days she was here, and it was great.  She wasn't just the same old Mary, she was better.    I want to go to Seattle tomorrow and stay for a month.  And I want to go during the summer, while her husband is on summer vacation, so that I can bond with him properly while she is at work.  I can't wait to meet her italian greyhound and her brother's Bernese Mountain Dog, Shasta.  I won't even have to worry about my ignorance of microbreweries, because Mary and her husband prefer Pabst Blue Ribbon.  I don't actually drink beer, except for Guinness while in Ireland, but still.

And, since God knows I can't write a bunch of nice stuff about someone else without finally bringing it back to ME, I have to admit that one of the most interesting things about seeing Mary was that, at least for a few days, I felt like my old self again. Like the last two and a half years never happened, and I was still the same clueless, brash, but happy person I was until my life as I knew it ended in a library administrator's office.   I even felt like the 8 years of working for literal psychopaths that preceded those two happy years never happened.  I just felt like me, and like that was enough.  Because if someone as awesome as Mary had liked be back before all of that, and yet still likes me now.....well, maybe, just maybe, I'm not as huge of a failure as I think I am. 

* Fine, more like two months. I never claimed to be good with numbers.
**Like anyone gives a damn anyway

***Please pronounce that "apple-atcha". Thank you.

****Or, as I just learned from an article on the International Federation Of Competitive Eating, she suffered a "Roman Event".

*****Remind me not to tell you what happened when I saw him again after 11 years.  And not to go into any details of the five or so years after that.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

First market

This past Saturday I attended the Bloomington Farmer's Market as a vendor for the first time.  Once a month, from May to October, our market has an art fair adjoining the regular farmer's market.  I applied to it months ago, and then didn't hear anything, so, due to my usual complete lack of self esteem,  I assumed I didn't get in.  I'd heard that getting into this fair wasn't easy, because the vendors from previous years get first, I am never quite sure than anyone really likes my stuff.  I have a sneaking suspicion that many people just pretend to like it because they feel sorry for me....while saying "Wow, that's great, you're so talented, they're actually thinking "God, that's so sad. She lives in her parents' basement, she can't get a real job, she has no romantic prospects to speak of; I better pretend I like this doll/bracelet/amorphous knitted item that looks like it was made by a kind of clumsy third grader".*

  About a week later, I got a letter welcoming to the market for May, June, July, August, and September.  Woo-hoo!  Ten minutes later, I was in my studio having a panic attack. 

I worked like a fiend all through the month, getting ready for the market.  Usually when I've done art shows, I tend to sell a lot of my jewelry, some smaller dolls, and maybe one to three bigger, more expensive dolls.  I'd never done a show in Bloomington before, so I was hesitant to put big city prices on things....and I assumed that, as usual, I'd probably sell more jewelry than dolls. 

I was delighted to be wrong.  Although I love beading, dolls are my passion. I sold only dolls.  Two larger ones, and then seven or eight little ones.  Since Saturday dawned grey and unseasonably cold, most people were literally running through the market, snatching up strawberries, flowers, and eggs, and then dashing back to their cars.  From what the other vendors said, if the weather was nicer, we probably would have had even more shoppers.  I enjoyed watching people walk past my booth and smile at the dolls, even if they didn't stop to buy.  And some old friends came by to say hello, which was great.

What was even nicer was remembering that the main reason I moved back here is because I fit in here....I love Bloomington people.  We might look very different, but we all agree that this is a pretty cool place to be.  There were people speaking Chinese, French, and languages I couldn't identify happily purchasing vegetables from solemn Amish farmers and their pink cheeked, silent children.  Dreadlocked vegans munched homemade tamales next to suburban housewives hurriedly sharing a chocolate chip cookie they weren't sharing with the kids.....crowds enjoying cloggers and fiddlers at one corner of the market, while at the opposite corner, an Asian man listened to live Thai music with tears in his eyes.....hippie moms carrying babies in slings.....fathers with baseball caps and NASCAAR shirts carrying their kids on their shoulders....and everyone was just happily coexisting and enjoying the day.     

I love this town.


*Don't lie.  You know that's what you thought the last time I showed you something.  And don't deny it, because then I'll know you're totally busted.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A very big bag of lucky [but dumb] things

By spring 2009,  my parents had already been supporting me for a year, and I knew the time was approaching when I had to either move back in with them and sell my house, or win the lottery.   I chose the first, because I never know what lottery tickets to buy.  There are so many, and they all have all these different instructions and it is just too hard to choose.  Then, you have to pay cash for them, which I either don't have, or which has fallen into the other dimension of time and space that lives at the bottom of my horrible old lady purse.
Also, I was tired of living alone and just the word "Ohio" seemed to leave the bitter taste of failure in my mouth.

I didn't realize it then, but I was also more depressed than I have ever been.  I knew I felt pretty damn bad, but it wasn't until I'd been back in Bloomington for 6 months and started feeling better, that I realized just how far down I really was.  See, sometimes it pays not to Know Thyself too well. 

Before I moved back, though, I had to have a talk with the Olds.  Clearly, they had, have, and continue to do more for me than any parents should ever be expected to.  Clearly, I am luckier than a bag of very big lucky things to have them.  Clearly, they should have children who are successful, functional grownups, and luckily, they have two of those--my brother and sister. Two out of three is pretty good, I guess. And  I am not one of those people who could [or would] ever blame them for any of my own problems*.....but during my exhausting 30 minutes of self realizations, I also could see that many of the decisions I had made to date in my life, I had made based on Not Wanting To Disappoint Other People, Especially But Not Limited to, My Parents.

Things like going to Vassar, although I am very glad I did go.  Going to grad school in history [Why I thought THAT was a good idea, I still don't know].  Going to library school [I pretend that I decided this myself, but really, it was my mom's idea and it was also a good one at the time since the alternative was to simply continue to alternate between playing Super Nintendo and crying for another three months]. Buying a house. Staying in a bad relationship way longer than I should have because I didn't want to fail at that AGAIN and be a disappointment in yet another way.  [Even though my parents had been tired of that relationship since the 80s]

All my parents have ever really wanted for their children is for us to be happy.  You know, like Sally Field in Steel Magnolias minus the fake Southern accent.  I honestly don't think that they would have cared much if I had gone exactly the opposite on most of the above.  But apparently, my sense of duty and guilt is so overdeveloped that I will consistently do things that I THINK they want me to do, and continually judge myself against what I think that they might think, rather than, you know, just do what I really honestly want to. There are so many levels of dysfunction in my sick little monkey mind that it is hard to pry them all apart.**

But I know my parents, and I knew that if I lived with them, that unless I had a real plan for what to do, that life would eventually degenerate into them subtly reading aloud the help wanted ads, and asking me leading questions, and that pretty soon I would find myself in yet another ill advised educational program/career choice/relationship....and that the cycle would begin again.  Let me be clear.  This would not be my parents' fault.

It would be MINE, for continuing to try to have the normal life that most people achieve without really thinking about it, and which is just not ever going to work for me.  You know, working a regular job, getting married or otherwise coupled, breeding little humans, having a 401k, being able to keep my eyebrows nominally groomed.   Those things, for whatever reason, are completely beyond me. I am glad other people have them, but I honestly never wanted any of the things that girls are supposed to want,  such as babies, picket fences, being emaciated, a husband with a good job, plenty of closet space or ridiculously expensive shoes.  I mean, I do like plenty of closet space.  So I can put fabric and yarn into it.  My choice of mate is mostly based on less practical things, like "Does this person pay attention to me?"  and  "Do they not vomit when I disrobe?"  And the expensive shoes I like are mostly black, clunky, and located in what my sister calls "the lesbian section" at DSW.  I do love babies, but not being able to litter train them is a deal-breaker.

Being a librarian worked for me only because it allowed me, up to a certain point, to be unconventional.  There is nothing odd about librarians who knit, collect cats, are somewhat bitter spinsters, read obsessively, and wear comfortable clunky Doc Martens.   It is not even odd to be all of these things at once.  Some librarians even defy the old stereotypes and embrace the new geek chic, wearing lipstick and odd homemade dresses with their glasses while selling poorly made fruit cozies and journals made of used toilet paper on Etsy while taking time out to drink microbrewed beer and sing karaoke on the weekends.

What librarians are NOT supposed to do, apparently, is express opinions, demand a living wage, or draw attention to themselves either professionally or privately without express permission of their director.  I probably could have managed to skin by on the first two.  But ever since I can remember, whether I try to or not, I do attract attention.  I don't really know why.  I'm sure a lot of it is due to just being an ass.  Which is fine.  My father always exhorts me to stick with my strengths, and that is surely a big one.

So, at some point, hopefully long before the age of 40, even if you've spent most of your life on the Isle of Cluelessness, you have to accept certain things about yourself and adjust life to your strengths and not the other way around.  So, I told the Olds that if I moved back in with them, of course they would have my undying gratitude and love and that when they become too feeble, I will open their wine bottles for them***......but that they also needed to understand that I am different, and not just because I am crazy.  And that I would not be moving back to try and get a stupid job that I would then mess up, and then try to get another one and screw that up too, and that I was not going back to school, EVER.  That I could do all of those things by myself, in Ohio, continuing on my merry, misguided way, trying to fit my square pegs into round holes**** and never succeeding.  If I came home to Bloomington, it would be, simply to be MYSELF.  And do things the only way I know how, which is by creating, and being an ass, and fitting in with all the other creative, underemployed but happy asses here. 

By the end of this conversation [proclamation is probably a more accurate description], I was shaking and sobbing.  And the poor Olds were just looking on in astonishment.  I don't think they had any idea just what a mess I really was, or that I'd spent so much of my life trying to please my own ideas of what they wanted....because, of course, those were my ideas, not theirs.  Apparently, when the Olds raised me to always consider other people's feelings, I misunderstood the part about figuring out what those feelings actually ARE.  Of course, since I seem to have spent so much of my life busily attempting to fulfill the imagined expectations of others, it shouldn't suprise me that I haven't spent that much time figuring out what I really want. 

Now, that I have, though, it is pretty simple.  I want to live in Bloomington.  Permanently.  And I want to make things, and hopefully, figure out how to support myself from doing so.  Whoah.  That wasn't nearly as hard as it should have been.  Imagine taking 40 years to figure that out.

*Except the short gorilla legs, tipped uterus, and the obsession with Criminal Minds.  They are completely to blame for all of that.

**Therapy, you say? Well, I've done that. Several times. The problem is, my first therapist died, which was [and continues to be] inconvenient. My second therapist, who was awesome beyond belief, disappeared. And my third one mostly asked me questions about knitting since I was knitting in the waiting room. I realize that I am free to find yet another therapist, but why pay money for someone to tell me the same crap I can figure out if I sit still for ten minutes and write it all down? Why deprive all six of you the amusement value of peering into my cluttered mind?

***Because old age doesn't mean you should give up your hobbies.

****That sounds much dirtier than I meant it to.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Self Reflecty Crap

I think I mentioned that before I moved back to Indiana, I had to sort out some things.  Annoying things, like Who Am I ? What Am I Doing Here? Where Did I Go Wrong? Spit or Swallow?

Things that require, like, thinking about myself.  Not my normal every day thinking about myself which is mostly limited to
1. What kind of chocolate can I eat today?
 2. My friends/family/dogs aren't paying enough attention to me today
and quite often
3. Is it a yarn buying day?
4. Sweatpants or nightgown?
not to mention
 5. How many episodes of Criminal Minds can I watch in only 12 hours?*

No, I had to put these vital issues on hold, sometimes for up to an hour or two at a time, and try to figure out what to do next.  I mean, you cannot watch Criminal Minds if you live on the street.**

So I did something I don't enjoy....I took a complete, thoughtful inventory of My Life to Date.  I divided it up as such:

Things I Can Do
-Make dolls.
-Hoard the supplies for all three.
-Force golden retrievers to love me better than anyone else
-Read books and talk about them
-Make fun of people, especially myself, Republicans, and the Olds***
-Be a really good librarian except for the part where you have to deal with the administration and all that officey nonsense
-Tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue.

Things I Can't Do.
-Keep my mouth shut when it is best for my career, relationships with others, or personal safety
-Geometry, or any other form of math beyond basic arithmetic
-Understand what goes on in the minds of mean, selfish people****
-Eat beets, or watch other people do so
-Kill spiders*****
-Go back to school, ever, because I loathed every single second of it from kindergarten on.  Well, not every single second.  Just the bits in the classroom. Recess, lunch, and residential life at college...those were fun.

Things I Would Like to Do Before Joining My Savior Jesus Christ In His Holy Kingdom.
-Not be struck down by lightning for laughing so hard at myself when I write things like that
-Live in Bloomington again
-Possibly get some self confidence back. Oh, and sanity. Might as well shoot for the goddamn moon.
-Figure out a way to support myself that does not involve walking on eggshells 99% of the time, meaning, not in an office environment, or, frankly, any environment that contains other humans on a daily basis with whom I must get along, respect, and try not to piss off just by existing
-Live a creative lifestyle....and by creative I do NOT mean multiple sexual partners of varying genders, recreational drug use, tattooing the living shit out of myself, or being so green that I must use my own thumb to wipe.  Not that there's anything wrong with any of those things, even though none of them appeal to me except the first one.   I just mean that I want my life to center around creating art, instead of having art be the thing I do when I've done all the other stuff I "have" to do. 
-Marry rich

Things I Would Rather Join the Republican Party and Attend Church Regularly Than Do
-Join the Republican party
-Attend church at all
-Stop making fun of Republicans
-Spend one second in a library building as an employee ever again. Unless it is my own private library completely owned and operated by me, and we call those "independent bookstores" and they're about as rare as a tea party Democrat these days
--Own a home ever again

and last, but strangely, not least,

How The Fuck Am I Going To Ever Support Myself With No Skills, Training, or Ability to Deal With People Outside My Immediate Family. 


Naturally, after looking at My Life, I had a little nervous breakdown and had to stay in bed re-reading the entire Little House series****** for a week.

But then, armed with the knowledge that almost anything in life can be fixed by making a pie and listening to Pa play the fiddle, I actually had some realizations.  I know. It was like giving birth, as a matter of fact.  Only worse because I didn't get any drugs to help with the pain.

----I never wanted to leave Bloomington in the first place. I didn't want to go away to college, and I didn't want to move away again after I spent many useless years in grad school here.  I have known this since I was a teenager, but I never listened to it.  I thought it was so much more important to Have a Career that I just told myself that living here again was Impossible.  And I liked lots of things about living in Ohio.  But most of the things I liked about it [besides the bead and yarn shopping] were things I liked because they reminded me of Bloomington in some way.  Hippie neighborhoods.  Trees.  Universities. A variety of foreign food, although, unlike here, all those restaurants were NOT conveniently located on one street.
 And you can certainly see what good use I've put that Vassar degree to, sitting here in the middle of the day whinging and whining on my blog.

My Realizations:
-----The main things I am good at are making dolls and being a smart ass.  Really, really good at them. 
-----These are not huge profit-making skills
-----I'm also a very good teacher.  I love beading, and I'm good at it. Not as good as I am at dolls, but still, not too shabby.  But I am a great beading teacher.  For some reason, with students, I have the patience that I lack in pretty much every other area of life.  Every time my family hears that my students think I am the "most patient teacher ever", they fall about in hysterics and need to be revived with well placed smacks.
----If I am going to ever try and make a living with art, I am going to have to totally freeload off other people for a while to get started.  I mean, even more than I already was freeloading, which was completely.  And since I had [have] not yet married a wealthy person, that left my parents.  Who had actually been encouraging me to move in with them for quite a while.

Oh my god I am so long winded and annoying even to myself.  I must go soothe my savage beast of a brain with some reality TV and perhaps a Judy Blume book.

* More than 12, if you have it on DVD with no commercials, I must add.
** Whoa.  I wonder if it is on iTunes? Then I could put it on my iPhone!!!
*** My parents. They don't like me to use their names, talk/write about them at all, and especially not on the Internet.  One out of three isn't bad.
****Sometimes, I just get tired of writing out the word "Republican"
***** No. I'm not afraid of them.  I just read Charlotte's Web one too many damn times.
******This is what I do when I can't do anything else. I don't know why, and please don't ask me to analyze it, for Christ's sake.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Getting around my own brain

Ok I have realized something about myself.....and you know how I hate that.

I should never end a post with "I'm going to talk about something next time" because what that means is that
1. I will put off writing another post even longer than usual, apparently because
2. Now that I've stated my objective to write/think about something in particular, my mind goes absolutely blank on that subject
3. By the time I DO work up enough guilt/energy/level of ADD meds in my system to write about that subject, it is so much later that no one cares anyway
4. And, by procrastinating so long about whatever said topic was in the first place, I've now probably thought of eight other really good things to write about, and not done them because I kept telling myself, "No, you have to write about that other thing first" and so then I forget what all of those things were.

So.  New rules for blogging:

1. Just fucking WRITE whatever comes into my head at that moment.
2. Don't make any rules.

Whoa. I feel like, all light and free now!

Wait, that might just be because I don't have anything on under my robe. Never mind.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Too distracted to come up with a title

Has anyone noticed that this is the third entry and I am still writing backstory?  I'm sorry.  I suppose I should have explained that I have ADHD*.  So sometimes I get distracted ** and off topic and it takes me a long time to settle down and focus and get to the point.  Plus, I get all wrapped up in trying to work things out from start to finish, and then, my non linear mind takes over and ......Whoa.  Totally forgot what I was talking about.


Okay.  ADHD is funny, but it is also annoying. Because some days, my brain really can't settle down and focus on one thing, and then other days, it gets so focused on one thing that I can't think about ANYTHING else.  Right now, that one thing is the fact that I can't find the pieces of a doll dress that I cut out and sewed together several months ago, but I want to finish the doll.  Naturally, I should just make a new dress and finish the doll which might take an hour or two.  But instead, every time I go into my studio I spend another hour unpacking boxes looking for the damn dress.  And then I sit down and think "Ok, just start this over", so then I spend about 30 minutes picking out the fabric for the dress, and then wonder, what about trims...and then OOOOO but if I did THAT then I would have to change her shoes.....wait a minute, what about painting her

See?  So I might as well just be looking for the other dress, because all of those decisions have already been made.   And that is the real thing about having ADHD that slows me down.  Too many choices.  What I should do in order to push myself into a final burst of production before my first art fair next weekend, is take my sewing machine, my OTT Lite, and one small box of beads and doll supplies and go stay in a cabin in the woods with no internet, cable, or phone for the next week.  

Oh and my iron.  I'd need my iron.  And really, that means my ironing board.  And then maybe an extension cord.  Actually, two, in case I need one for the sewing machine....Um, three....OTT Lite.....Ooooo, definitely have to remember my spare OTT Lite bulbs, because the one that's in there is like, three years old....and I'd have to take them all because if I take just one it'll be the exact wrong one.....and I've been meaning to pick up an extra light bulb for my sewing machine, which reminds me, I still need to get some more sewing machine needles and bobbins, which means I'll have to go to Bedford, because I am pretty sure they have a Viking husqvarna dealer.....

Even later.....

Damn.  I was too distracted to even finish this entry.  I started thinking of all the things I'd have to take with me if I went on a self imposed craft retreat, and then I realized that by the time I finished packing the car I could have finished three dolls.    Not to mention, I would have to, like, pay to stay somewhere with money I have not yet even earned.

 Now it is actually the next day, and I'm not very pleased to report that my burst of looking for things went on for much of the rest of yesterday on into the night.  I did not find what I was looking for, but I did find four dolls that I knew I hadn't sold, so I am counting that as "finishing" them.  Shut up.  It does so count.

*No, really. I do. Like, diagnosed by doctors and crap.  But not the kind where I am a little kid running around in circles...the kind that women and girls get, which is more daydreamy, and involves stuff that women are SUPPOSED to do, like multitask, and reading nine books at once and starting seven hundred projects and maybe finishing four and not being able to keep my mouth shut pretty much on pain of death and not using punctuation because my brain can't be bothered to pause like that and.....Ok. Got it?

** See previous footnote

Monday, April 26, 2010

Still smells pretty fresh

So before I moved back home to Indiana [cue song], I had to sort out some things.  Such as, Who Am I and What Am I Doing on the Planet, blah, blah, blah.....I know many people think that I am incredibly self involved, and they may not be entirely wrong....but there's a difference between being self involved and clueless and self involved and self-aware.  I enjoy things being All About Me, unless those things are growing, learning, and being a better person.  However, when you're unemployed for a year, you have a lot of spare time.  And sooner or later, you realize that scheduling your life day around Kathy Lee and Hoda, The View, and Ellen is not necessarily a valid life choice. Although, drinking with KL&H on Winesday shouldn't technically classify as "drinking alone" since they're doing it.....

I applied for some library jobs, and realized that there were 1. Almost no jobs left for professional librarians with my particular skills [helping patrons directly; buying books; actually being a librarian instead of an administrator bent on killing my own profession]  and that 2. No one was going to give me one of them anyway, especially because of the refusing to kill my own profession thing.   Since I really loved being a librarian, this was depressing, but with my usual good cheer I only pouted about it and wrote bitter, scathing blog entries for six months or so.  I mean, in addition to the year I'd already spent so upset about it that I could barely even mention the word "library" without bursting into tears of rage.

So I spent a year working in a yarn shop, which taught me several important things about myself and also reiterated all the lessons I should have learned in Libraryland, but apparently, didn't. 

Things I Learned From YarnWorld:
1. Am a hell of a salesperson (apparently, that's why I was good at getting people to check out lots of books...I just didn't know that in the real world, we call that "selling" instead of "circulating")
2. That I have an innate business sense that I clearly did not learn during my many, many years of higher education, since most of those were spent studying medievals and their dirty little sex lives, and all the things they wrote/painted/carved about them.
3. Women are needy.  I'm sorry. I know that's sexist, and that Monique Wittig is turning over in her grave.* But, they are.  I don't know if it's because so many of them are used to never making any big decisions by themselves, or if its because everyone else depends on them so much that sometimes they just need to hand the reins to someone else.  And I don't mind the neediness itself; it is the entitlement that seems to be the real problem.  Such as, "Well, I bought yarn here once ten years ago"** so therefore "you HAVE to help me with this incredibly complicated project that I really don't have the skills for and for which I bought the yarn, pattern, etc at your closest competitor".....
4. Women can be really nice....but they can also be meaner than dirt.  Like, you might meet some people who become your friends for life....and then you meet some people who call the owners of the shop and claim that you ruined their projects on purpose while you were spending hours and hours trying to undo the horrible, irretrievable mess that they made of them.....
5. Don't trust people. Really. Just don't.  Especially if you work for them, with them, or if they have mouths.
For some reason, most of them want you to fail, even if you're doing something that they aren't doing and never would do.  I don't know why this is.  I hope I don't actually learn.
6. Don't trust people where money is involved. Especially if they tell you that you don't need a written agreement because they're a certain religion which means that of course they will pay you back the thousands of dollars they owe you because of some IMINTS***.  I know that sounds like a no-brainer to all of you with brains, but for some reason, it wasn't one to me. Even though I am more heathenish than a large bumbling heathen thing.
7. Finally, and I want to be clear about this, Do. Not. Trust. People.  Just stop doing it right now.

So it might sound like I became a tad jaded from my year o' yarn, especially on top of the end of my professional library career.  Once my yarny career went down in flames that smelled oddly of the same humiliation as those that incinerated my library career, I decided to spend several months just brooding.  And wallowing. And whining.  It was after a few months of this that I received the blazing insight that Maybe Shit Went Wrong Because Of Me, and the choices I was making, rather than because the entire world was out to get me.

I know.  That's a shocking claim.  But, I read a lot of novels aimed at 13 to 16 year olds, and they often have this very message.  I might have lots 'o book learnin'.  But when it comes to emotional learnin'--I am about in the 7th grade, apparently.

I decided it was time to think about What I Really Wanted Out of Life.  Now, lots of people do this before they are almost 40.  Some of them seem to know it from childhood, and many of them at least get it by their 20s.  Strangely, lots of people have very similar goals.  They want a job they can stand, that they can live on, and to find love, and then maybe breed.  And then someday, their breedings will breed, and they can move to Florida and talk about all their generations of breedings.  Which I think must be very nice, in many ways.  Its just that I never thought about those things.  It never occurred to me to think about my wedding, which apparently most girls start planning at about age four.  It never occurred to me to want one at all, actually.  It seemed that the older I got, the more I realized that all of my hazy goals, if they could even be termed as such, did not involve anything that smacked of suburbia, station wagons, or an old age filled with porches and grandchildren.  Maybe that is because I had such a childhood myself, that was nearly perfect in every way.  We had a station wagon, I had four grandparents for the first 9 years of my life, two great-grandparents, oodles of aunts and uncles, and lots of cousins. My parents had that odd thing, a truly happy, stable marriage, and my brother and sister were normal and likeable.  It seems almost unfair to have had such a good childhood.  Mostly, what I thought about when I was little, was making things, playing with dolls, and reading.  I had friends, but I mostly liked to be alone so I could read books and then play out their stories with my dolls.  And I loved making things, especially out of fabric.  My mom probably first threaded a needle for me when I was seven or so, and I sewed little bits and pieces from then on, mostly for my dolls.

By the time I was a teenager  I knew a lot more about what I liked than I would know twenty years later.  Back then, I loved music, art, and performing.  I kept copious diaries from the time I could write until leaving for college.  I played the cello well enough to consider a career in music.  I sang, acted, and made things for my dolls, and then when I was blessed with a little sister at about the time most girls lay aside their dolls, I was able to play with hers. 
Then I went away to college, and within four years I'd stopped acting, singing, playing the cello, and making things.  I spent college involved in a variety of political causes, social activities, and pretty much left behind all the areas in which I had real talent, because I was intimidated by how many of my classmates had even more talent....and, I'm sorry to say, because I thought they were all so much better looking.**** I graduated and came back home, where I spent several years knocking around trying to fit into a variety of graduate programs and social circles. What I enjoyed most was making dolls, which was mostly a secret that I did in a room in my basement....and something which only my family and closest friends knew about.  I'd been making dolls and bears, pretty secretively, since I was about 12.  I was good at it, but always felt weird, because no one else seemed to do it, and if they did, it was mostly to make a toy for a baby. 

When I got my first professional library job, I moved to a town where I had lots of family, but didn't fit in at all.  I hated the job; it hated me, and had it not been for my grandma, my aunt, my cousin, and her adorable 18 month old daughter,  I would have been really lonely.  It was about that time that my dolls because a huge part of my life that I started to be proud of, instead of a weird, almost dirty secret.  I found other people like me on the internet, as a part of the first online doll community, and for the first time since I left home for college, I honestly felt kind of normal.  It was such a relief to find out there were so many other people who spent their spare time sewing and who would rather shop for fabric than shoes.

Then I found my doll club.  Which I will have to talk about next time as this is already offensively long.

*Where, it is to be hoped, she was buried in clothes much cleaner than the ones she used to wear to class at Vassar.

**Which, actually, you didn't, since this store didn't exist ten years ago, but that's ok, I know you mean that you bought yarn somewhere, once, and it might or might not have been here because all of us salespeople are actually the same person

***Imaginary Man In The Sky

****Oh yeah. That part will take a lot more than a few paragraphs to explain.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shiny New Blog Smell

I hate the first entry of a new blog.  I feel like I'm on a job interview and I have about three sentences to hook you or lose you before you start thinking  "I don't have time for this. I could be reading Perez Hilton right now.  I hate the font she's using. Ooooh, I forgot to check my horoscope, and then I need to update my Facebook status...." and poof, another reader, gone!

Still there??  I know, I have to check Perez every day too.  Since I gave up watching the news and can no longer afford my former diet of four tabloids a week, if it weren't for Perez and I would never know anything that's going on. And by "anything" I mean important celebrity news such as, is Brangelina still intact?  Who the hell could cheat on Sandra Bullock, and with THAT tramp??  And hello, what about Kate Hudson's new, um, additions?? 
Whoops.  I get distracted easily.

I used to have another blog which I updated every few weeks, depending on how pathetic I was feeling.   I whined a lot about my failed relationships, my chronic disorganization, the paragon of badness that is my dog, and anything else I could think of......except my artwork.  I wrote about my dolls once or twice, and I think I mentioned some of the beading classes I taught, but I rarely wrote about either.  I'm sure that's partly because I feared being as deadly boring and self important as most of the knitting blogs I've read. 
I think it's also because I knew if I put as much angst laden instrospection into my art and why I create it as I do my disastrous love life, that I might be forced to like, learn things about myself.  And if I learned things about myself, I might have to actually use them, and, you know, grow or something.

That's a lot of work for the mama.

Then something happened to make my life so pathetic that not only could I not stand to write about it, I couldn't stand for anyone to know about it..  I lost the job that I thought I would stay in until I retired, that I loved and thought was Where I Was Supposed to Be.  I was a librarian at a medium sized public library, which means I was underpaid, overworked, and felt like I was doing Something That Mattered.   I was also very, very good at it, at least the part where I bought the books and got people to check them out and read them.  Librarians reading this will know that in libraryland, none of these equate with professional success unless you also can do these things while firmly lodged inside the director's posterior region.

Well.  Losing my job meant that not only was I unemployed in a profession that's disappearing faster than the rain forest, it also ended up meaning that I left the profession entirely.  In an attempt to stay in my house in Columbus, Ohio I ended up working at a yarn shop for a year.  I loved working there and working with knitters, but realized that working for very, very religious people does NOT mean that you are working for honest people.  In fact, often quite the opposite!  So that ended badly, too, and at that point, I was lost.

I made some big changes, such as moving back in with my parents in another state, and finally my life, while still not what you might call "interesting", is looking up.  And by "looking up" I mean that writing about it does not plunge me deep into the Vale of Tears.  Most of the time. I left behind my home of 13 years, my doll club, and the career I thought would be mine until retirement.  Sometimes that still seems like a lot to take in, but each day is getting better.