31 March 2011

Dear Amy Butler

Hello Amy Butler.

I saw you speak in September 2010 at The Creative Connection Event. You were darling and made a very good presentation. Your textiles are beautiful and you clearly have made a successful and long career that has impacted design in this country.

I bought your Style Stitches book so that I could participate in Jemellia's Style Stitches Monthly Bag Challenge. And it has been challenging as I have never followed a pattern before, having only quilted and made primitive dolls. During month 3 we were to make the 6 Origami Zipper Bags, my first attempt at sewing a zipper. I got all my zippers in and up to step 5. I then finished one bag, turned in right side out and your directions side to "smooth the sides." I had ghastly gaps with no fabric left to smooth, tuck or close. I saw on the Flickr group that people were hand stitching these gaps, or using alternative zipper techniques to finish these bags. It simply didn't work as directed.

I had no intentions of finishing these or any other "designer" patterns. After all, Vera Bradley sells a huge variety of well-priced, high quality bags that cause me no frustration whatsoever.  I am not saying I am intelligent but I have sequenced DNA and can follow a complex set of directions yet I could not understand what I was supposed to do with these instructions.  But...I hated to let Jemellia down.

For three weeks that stack of unfinished bags caused me grief. Now look, I do not want to feel negatively toward you Amy Butler, certainly not toward sewing. My machine is a kind of altar where I go to find peace. Life has lots of frustrations and drudgery, confusion and problems, I certainly don't need my time for creativity to be unpleasant. Not perfect, not without challenge, but these things could certainly be explained better, so that a novice who can follow reasonable directions can get a decent result.

After whining to another member of our group, trying to keep my issues from Jemellia, I researched and grinched through until I found a completely easy solution that closes the bag beautifully and is only a minor adjustment to your instructions.

I have to say, these difficult directions actually made me learn more. It, however, was not particularly enjoyable.

They are complete. I was challenged. I kept my word to Jemellia to participate. I just don't know how drunk I will have to get before I am willing to start month 4 which is designated "intermediate" level of difficulty.


Robin Thomas
Barely Bitter

27 March 2011

All the Ladies

I am really loving us. You and I. You have been so giving. I really have been thinking about you. About us.

I was feeling guilty, of course, about my last post and all the whining, negative posts before it in the last year...the year of reckoning, the year my daughter starting driving and looking at colleges, the year my body is deconstructing its reproductive ability. I was feeling bad for you. For reading about my darkness and sadness and how it elicits such love and support from you, you whom has no time for me.

I don't still feel guilty today. I turned my thinking into something like this...we all will face all these same things I am facing. Either you have already buried your parents, or you will. Maybe you never had parents and had to grieve that already. It is a certain and natural thing that we will all bury our parents.

We all will say goodbye to our children. Maybe you never had any and you had to let that choice happen, maybe you have raised your kids and already saw them leave the nest, maybe you have babies and it seems like a million miles away, maybe you are just hopeful to have or get a baby. But we all have to deal with the decison or the experience in someway. Maybe you have a disabled child that will never get to make the choices my dear lucky daughter can. Maybe you buried your child, the worst imaginable of all scenarios. But it is a certain and natural thing that we all face the issue of children and reproduction itself.

We all deal with the hormonal tides. Maybe you had a hysterectomy, or cancer and had surgical removal and early menopuase. Maybe it came and went without fanfare, but still its gone. Maybe you are facing menopause yet to come, periods yet to start, horrific pain and PMS and can't wait for it to go. But it is cetain and natural that the function of our reproductive system will take up huge amounts of our lives.

We all will face my same life issues, its all just timing, when, and how many at once. So of course I need not feel guilty for you reading my thoughts nor should I feel bad about you loving me. You know you will be here or you have been here, my timing is now, all these things. I will lose my mother and my daughter and my periods about the same time. Interesting that these are all such female issues.  Female rights of passage.

And yet, you, you who gives and gives can come here and give some more. You who should take instead of give because you are tired, depleted, often forcing yourself to the grocery store yet another time, folding that towel for the 176th time, emptying the dishwasher again, deciding on a menu again, figuring out what to wear again, smiling again, buying another gift, mailing another card, reminding, listing, driving, circling, you come here and give some more.

I love us. I love us women who give until there is nothing else. Of course we plummet through depressions. Of course we share anxieties. Of course we come here for a community who understands each other.

I feel very moved by us. I am so proud of us. I think I will remember that in 10 minutes when I am guilty for not giving someone I love enough attention. We do so much.

I would never speak to someone the way I speak to myself. Critical. Judgemental. I would never let someone talk to you the way I talk to myself. And that insidious hating voice once identified and kept pretty quiet waited, opportunist that she is, until I became more exhausted and weakened and she started whispering, so quiet, so in rhythm with my own better thoughts that I didn't hear her at all. I just became more guilty and depleted. She worked on me like a seductive abuser until she was yelling at me that I am worthless and cannot manage anything. Yelling and screaming and I was cowering in the corner hating and loving and believing her.

And then I remembered us. You and me. Strong, loving, take a bullet for our people women who have this horrible, hating, self loathing voice.

You want me to keep mine quiet. I want you to keep yours quiet.

And we bolster each other. And we keep talking to each other. You lift me up out of that corner, so I can hear the ridiculousness of my own thoughts. I hope I can remind you who you really are as well.

Strong, loving, soft, hard, beautiful. Woman.

23 March 2011

The Abyss

Unfortunately I have slipped into the abyss. I have had to reel in my circle of concern to include myself, my daughter, and my job. My poor husband still circles the fort. I even had to exclude mother for a whole week. The first time since sometime in '09. She did not like it either. I got a an ass-chewin' with what little strength she has. That depleted me pretty badly. The guilt. The guilt. It would be nice not to have it. If you are enmeshed with your mother, no matter what therapy and prayers you have tried, nothing will mess with your head and challenge your strength like her extended illness for years.

I chose to put off my journal project class until I can be present for it and enjoy it.

I am just now starting to emerge, a little. I can see more than three feet in front of me this week. I can have more than 2 things per day on my list. But just three.

Some lessons about suffering are emerging. It has lots of Christian content. It is shame at the DNA level. So deep is this guilt no rational thought can touch it.

I am trying to tell myself to shut-up. I keep getting up and working on gratitude.

This shit is hard.
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