Cross-stitch is not for the weak

While I was in Chicago recently for a few work conferences that were back to back, conversations with girlfriends and boyfriends often turned to DIY and the crafting movement. All the cool kids are doing it, it seems. Now I’m no stranger to the DIY/crafting world as I’ve been dabbling on and off for a few years, including but not limited to the following:

But the one that seems to be all the rage in my circles is cross-stitch. I can name half a dozen people off the top of my head who currently count this as their number one crafting past-time. Their constant yammering about their projects, and since it seems you really don’t need to know how to do much other then thread a needle and sew, appealed to me. I like the idea that it is essentially paint by numbers, but with thread. (I will also admit TheHusband has asked me to put the knitting needles down as my hats keep getting more and more interesting. The latest one ended up shaped like a used condom.)
Since having an instant support group for any kind of activity appealed to me, I took myself off to Hobby Lobby tonight after work to get supplies. Since I was not fond of getting a pattern that was “of the lord” or of a fruit basket, I bought a bag of 150 colors of floss, rolled up tube of cross-stich fabric, a hoop, needles, and other accouterments as seen in the picture above. I figured I come home, have dinner, find a pattern, and go. And if I hated it, I would pawn the lot off to Kristin.
No. Not that simple.
The cross-stitch world is complicated. The surge for wanting things handmade has increased the amount of information on the topic, which makes sense since there are thousands nay millions of pages on just about any topic in the universe, according ye olde googles. But I’m a librarian! I should be able to find stuff easily. No, not quite true either. Bad taxonomy and tag stuffing also thwarted my plans. After an hour of looking for patterns, for an easy one I could do in a few hours, turned out to be horribly wrong. I had thought of coughing up a few bucks to Subversive Cross Stitch, whom I long amired, only to find as I was going through their patterns, nothing appealed.
Kristin suggested creating my own pattern, using something like MyPhotoStitch to generate the colors and patterns for me. But the problem is that I wanted to do something BIG AND FLASHY vroom vroom, when I still need training wheels. So instead of creating something that requires 44 different flavors of floss, I need something that has say, eight. Tomorrow when I’m not feeling so emotionally drained, I’ll probably create a TARDIS or something Doctor Who related.
And hopefully this time, nothing will come out shaped like a used condom.

1. The proof that I broke even on my investment with Excessively Diverting proved to me that I could make and sell something of my own creation, which is a huge confidence boost. Now only if could apply that to other things in my life.

Why I choose The Avengers over #TEDxGR

[Edit: This is the first time I’ve read this since I wrote this back in May and yep, I still agree with much of what I wrote below. I don’t know why I didn’t post this until now, but when I espoused these opinions via Twitter, several people said I should ahve given it a chance before knocking it to the ground. Perhaps they’re right. So next year I’ll attend and see if my vitrol changes. There was also some hubbub about money with TedXGR and there were also major concerns about one of the TedX board members whose ideologies seemed conflicted with the spirit of TED.- Lisa, July 23, 2012]
Like many other edgier creative types, I am a ticketholder for the TEDx event that is currently happening right now in downtown Grand Rapids. But instead of being rapt in admiration or wondrous belief at the current speaker on stage, I’m taking off to see The Avengers and then I’m heading out to get a mani/pedi afterwards.  Then instead of the after party down at the Pyramid Scheme where I could mix with other edgier creative types (read: white people), my husband will then grill filet mignons we’ve had aging in the fridge for the last week and perhaps get drunk on the bottle of mid-range champagne we purchased for our recent anniversary.
Tickets for the event were competitive AND expensive ($115 which also included a forced lunch option, which pissed me off), so willingly giving up something I’ve seen other people badly desire (and I offered to give them my ticket and received no response) seems all kinds of foolish. And on top of that, there is all kinds of fiscal stupidity for blowing that kind of cash on something I’m not following through. Plus you know, I may have actually, might have had a good time!
So then why?
I couldn’t be arsed to be with a roomful of people who were all dying to talk to me (per TEDxGR’s emails that they would be) while dressed creativity (again per TEDxGR’s email) and we were to talk about SPREADING BIG IDEAS  and networking like crazy. Truthfully, the concept makes me want to bitchslap people.
A year ago, I would have given an eyetooth to attend the inaugural TEDxGR event if finances were willing.  However, I feel  the problem is as a society, we’re so overwhelmed with ideas on a daily basis, saturated beyond the tipping point, our language is no longer about carrying and putting these ideas to work but about how much jargon we can extraopolate from the current set of buzzwords while pretending we all look incredibly smart and well read. BECAUSE WE ARE SPREADING IDEAS. The library world has had its own share of TEDx-esque hypsters who are all about MAKING SHIT HAPPEN but you never hear about the outcome of SHIT ACTUALLY BEING MADE. We all want to buy into the idea propmachine that we’re creating and curating new content by becoming change agents to maxmimize our world.
I have no idea what that last sentence actually means but it’s a pretty good jist of what I’m against.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the concept of TED is wonderful. I think there is a lot of good that TED and some of the TEDx events bring to the world. I watch zillions of TED videos and podcasts.  But it gets to the point, again, with the oversaturation being pushed by consumeristic media that we all must think these big thoughts that we never actually get anything done.
Can we actually stop having big thinks and put those thinks into practice?
The children will thank you.

If not then, then now

I knew it was time to take a break after working steadily on cleaning my office for a few hours when I put the carbon copy of a check in the envelope and sealed it without thinking. And my brain has been throbbing for half that time. UFYH rules say you should take breaks every so often to keep your focus up and your mind engaged, brain fatigue is painful when attempting to accomplish something, and when finding the simplest of tasks become too mountainous, it’s time to rest. (But am I not superwoman, who can do everything?)
I noticed that I am finding myself struggle with brain fatigue quite a bit as of late. Conversations that require me to think beyond the shallow depths of my knowledge, books that require me to be more engaged then a passive reader, thoughts that I should have but somehow I can’t find the words to express. My inner world seems so rich and yet, when I go to articulate it, I sound uninformed or even worse, like an idiot.
I can physically feel this barrier that is pitting me against the world, I find it even in my superficial thoughts to be a skim over the edge but when I dig deep, and burrow myself in to find what I’m looking for, then I find myself scraping against the wall, my voice shouting on the inside to let me pass! But nothing happens, no break through and no release. So my words are strangled in my throat, in the elbows of my arm, for they cannot get to my finger tips, in the unknown reaches of neverwhere, where everything goes to live and yet nothing seems to come back alive.
The pug continues snoring on, her cadence is reassuring and at times, the most honest thing in the world.

Super Moon

It is the witching hour here and magic is awakening for its nightly crawl across our world. It seeping out of the never, into our peripheral vision, those flutters of something that we cannot not quite capture in full sight.  Magic is easy to ignore in the daylight for we can blame the light for whatever mysteries have seeped over in this realm, but we cannot ignore its rightful place in the night. For what we think we saw and that is gone, what we think we hear and is not repeated, and what we think we feel but do not feel again are those figments of the other that are stretching their gossamer wings as they tiptoe around us, their giggling muted to human ears.
We are interrupting their world now, with our presence, and they want us to hurry up and leave. We are the beings invading their space, this is their time to shine.   While we curly up in our beds, covers tucked to our chins, the other is floating to around us, protecting us from the evil that lurks. The other are here to protect us, but we’ve never really understood that; not  now. Not in a thousand years. They protect us from the unnamed and the ugly, the frightening and the mares that roam, looking for overripe innocence. Their words of protection are rapid fire and come as tickles in our ears, their skips across our forehead we mistake for loose hairs.
“Don’t look under the bed.”

Bone chips and Felix

2012 x-ray of my right ankle. Yay bone chips!
I fear I am going insane.
The last couple of weeks, I have become an emotional hot mess. My mind, and my dreams, has been everywhere and nowhere at once, shifting the lines of reality and maybe madness. My thoughts have not been racing, as they were wont to do in the past, but I am having trouble focusing on any particular thing longer than a few seconds. I’ve come out of a dead sleep several times in the last month or two when I’ve thought I’ve seen or felt things in the dark, only to discover they weren’t there. Then I feel like a fool for when I tell people about what I see/heard, because I sound ridiculous. The other night, I had a nightmare bats were dive bombing the bed and I could feel the bed shiver as each bat landed on the mattress. But of course, after waking with a gulping start, there were no bats, there was nothing over head, and the only sounds in the bedroom were the teeter-tottering snores of TheHusband and the pug.
Tonight, I heard the sound of something scratching at the wood inside of the walls in my office, some kind of persistant “scratch, scratch, scratch” that sounded more like something was trying to free itself from its wooden prison, but I couldn’t find a source of the sound. The sound was coming near a joint in the window in my office, and it was loud!, but of course as soon as I called Justin in to investigate, the sound immediately disappeared. Justin reasoned it was probably a squirrel or some other varmint hanging out in the gutters and the noise was ricocheting down into the office, since my office is in a corner room. To appease me, Justin pounded on the wall around the source of the alleged noise but nothing stirred at his thumps, and nothing has stirred since he left.
In the past when I felt like I was going slightly insane, at least my insanity had a rational to it – I could manage the craziness. But this time is different, between the dreams and the sounds, because what if this all in my head? How do I manage that?
It hurts to think. Sometimes, it hurts to read. I feel like I am drowning in information, struggling to clutch on to what is important rather than what wanted. The air is murky here, because there are no clear paths for me to go, there is vague directions, and no real sign for which way for me to wander.
I need a purpose.

The Caravaggio Project

Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1598

Before I started my undergrad, I never understood art. I never understood the appeal, the intricacies, why certain strokes of paint across the canvas were better than others, or why any of those things were important.
My discovery of Caravaggio changed all of this. So much so that I changed my singular major to a dual one with intent of heading to graduate school to get my MA in art history.
Which would have happened if I did not have an irrational fear of learning a new language, as you do.
When I went to Rome in 2005, I made it my mission to see all the Caravaggios available in the city, since the damned place is lousy with them. This sparked a bigger idea of tracking down and seeing, in person, all the Caravaggios available in the world. This is how The Caravaggio Project was born, and to date, I’ve seen Caravaggios in five or six countries and two continents, with many future trips planned around this theme.
I decided to keep track of the project online so that I can better figure out what I have and have not seen, plus I need to feel that certain sense of accomplishment. The chronology of Caravaggio’s work is from Wikipedia, but I plan to keep verify the entries once I get the data all established. It also helps that there has been a resurgence of interest in his work, such as the recent travelling exhibition, Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome and books such as The Lost Painting.
The listing for The Caravaggio Project isn’t complete yet, but should be soon.
If you’re wondering why Caravaggio, actually it’s pretty easy: He was a conflicted man that worshipped his own pleasures under the umbrella of the Catholic church. He was a hedonist, lecherous, bisexual, and narcissistic (many of his paintings feature his own likeness in steed of a model). He was the Byronic hero several centuries before Byron. His life was that of passion and torment, and the fact that he had an artistic ability that was almost supernatural is actually secondary to the man himself. He lead a tragic life and died quite young. If one could be a Caravaggio groupie, that would be me.
Judith Beheading Holefrenes is probably my most favorite of his paintings, though I’m fond of his Bacchus series as well. I picked up a nice print at the Borghese Gallery of Judith Beheading Holefrenes that used to hang in my bedroom before it was nearly destroyed due to mold and damage from improper storage while I was in-between places.
I thought it sent a nice message to current and future suitors.

Watch out for the falling divs

[Update: 19:21] Seems like I caught and found most of the errant pixels driving me batty, but everything is not perfect. If you or someone you know is a web developer, comfortable with WordPress & CSS, contact me ASAP. I’ve hacked the fuck out the CSS for this theme but my fixing the themes mistakes keeps breaking it! I know it’ll take 2-3 hours to fix the CSS (at max). The framework could also be tweaked as well to clean it up.
Currently tweaking the blog’s theme, which is causing it to morph in and out of various themes for the last hour or so, and will continue on and off for the rest of the day. If you find something isn’t where it was a moment ago, that is why!

It’s all about the hair.

I never thought I’d write a post about my beauty process1, however, a large number of my Twitter girlfriends and I haven taken to having unplanned and very random discussions lately on everything from being anxious to our periods to whatever else our vaginas demand we talk about on the twitters. As the conversations are often spontaneous2, and it typically starts out with one writing a blog post, another commenting on said blog, then more entering the fray with their thoughts and the threads go on for ages. Thus, when Carolyn recently wrote about that she doesn’t use shampoo, I commented that at some point I should write about the fact that I wash my hair once a week. Several of them said I needed to do such a post because it would be very important, natch, to note that not all of us are created equal, hair wise.3 Since I’m a writer with consistant writer’s block, if writing about my girly acts gets me back to writing on a more regular basis, who am I to argue?
When I say “I wash my hair once a week,” I mean specifically that: I wet and lather my hair once a week. I do not wet or wash it during the course of the week, with the odd exceptions here or there, but usually I have to set aside time for THE WASHING not so much that I have so much hair but that it can be a fairly long process. When I first met my friend Jessica, this past January we were attending the same workshops together in California, and one night we were planning on doing something or another and I mentioned that I had to get back to our hotel early to wash my hair. She looked at me like I was crazy, as it does sound so damned ’50s. Though, to be fair, I have been toying with the idea of setting my hair in juice cans for curls that won’t quit but that is neither here nor there.
Continue reading “It’s all about the hair.”

angry girl is angry

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” – Winston Churchill
My primary work husband let some words slip today, in regards to me, that is currently traveling around our place of work. I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear what was said, though to his credit he gave generalities over specifics, knowing that if I knew more about the situation(s), it would or could make it uncomfortable for me in future interactions. He did, however, throw me a bone in that a female in a similar level and power as myself was, instead of clutching me to her bosom, also responsible for some of what was said. I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear that she was making noises about me, but, I was genuinely distressed to hear that she felt it necessary to gingerly throw me under the bus rather than embrace our uniqueness.
This is also not the first time, nor will it be the last, where my character has or will be called into question. Not in this current postion, nor in the past positions I’ve held. In the past, I’ve typically placed the blame on myself: I was too opinionated, too honest, too many whateverits and thus, it almost always got me in trouble. My work ethic and job performances were never criticized, no, but my personality often was. I’ve always taken responsibility and the blame for these things when it has happened, even if I was in right, because work politics is work politics, no matter how inane and how misguided they may be. As Omar from The Wire keeps saying, “You’ve got to play the game before the game plays you.”
Continue reading “angry girl is angry”

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