JCS

linkage on friday!

JCS
dance, you filthy, taut-buttock’d hippies, dance!

***

First: after some sewing-room time listening to JCS, which is kind of one of my favorite things, I went online and found the ultimate Bob Bingham thread – Bingham also known as Caiaphas, who wore a novelty calculator on his sexy bare chest and a spray-painted acorn squash on his head. ZOMG so many great memories of singing the entire rock opera word-for-word with my HS girlfriends!

Second: I need any great pictures, video snippets, or factoids re: Billy Zane. Don’t ask why. Hush, child. Just: Trust. And post anything good in the comments.

Today: attempting to catch up on my writing commitments, I wrote a piece on Underbellie. I hope it helps someone.

Finally: you have a few days left to pre-order my zine and save a little funds. I have to be honest, my zine is in desperate need of help. I make about $1 to $2 per issue, and I think last issue (in February) I had fewer than ten subscribers. You can grab archive zines gratis; please do so to consider if this is a project you’d like to support or pass on.

Additionally, in zine news: I am offering up a sponsorship program. If you’d like to know more details, email me at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org. I am aware I just told you my zine is not enjoying widespread circulation; however, I do have a business plan for increasing viewership and response. So please do contact me if you’d like to support the zine in this way.

TTFN!

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth

My recent Life Learning Magazine* article published automatically on Underbellie (I’d forgotten I’d scheduled it); I’m going to leave it up for now (with a call-out to my editor to make sure this is cool; read it while it’s hot!). And  yesterday I rather busted ass on a shadow-dieting piece which I feel rather massively insecure about mostly because the topic is so vast it was hard to condense it.

The funniest thing (to my tiny brain) is I clicked on a tweet re: unschooling to find myself quoted in a blog, which is how I found out the unschooling piece had gone live. And the blog post didn’t say anything hateful about me (bonus).

I must stop writing and publishing. One day someone is going to be SO MEAN TO ME (well, AGAIN), and I’m going to seriously cry. I will never be a thick-skinned person.

But anyway, today I’m proud enough of my writing.

* P.S. You should seriously subscribe to this publication, and no I get no kickback or whatever for saying this.

self-appointed guru, with scattered clouds of assiness

You know what’s funny, I am getting an increasing number of queries seeking advice on parenting, schooling, and family life. Today I had three such requests, two of them quite lengthy in content. I am very happy to help people; it is a calling (among a few others) very dear to me. I am currently worried about my inability to email or responding quickly to all missives and inadvertently hurting feelings. So these days if you put a letter to me and I don’t immediately respond, I do intend to.

It’s funny because my whole life I’ve been asked for advice (to be fair, I also tend to freely give it, a process I am working on doing with respect and a commitment to non-asshattery). I remember once in seventh grade choir a group session where suddenly a girl – whom I did not know – turned to me and tearfully asked if she could talk to me. In a private practice room she laid out agonies in her family life. She needed someone to listen and be present with her pain. I remember even at age thirteen feeling so honored to be trusted in this way. I hope for her, and for the friends and acquaintances and Tweeps and etc. who seek me out, that I did more help than harm.

My own life busies along. Yesterday a feminist blog (I adore) discussed reproductive choice and as a sidebar to the discussion a few people demonstrated a fair bit of birth ignorance. Ah, birth ignorance – a subject that usually has the power to send me into deep personal pain and agony. Rather than arguing what would have been a derail to the main topic, I did my best to turn my feelings into something constructive at my little Underbellie site (the jury’s out on that particular aim).

Today it rained the wet, splashy, delicious-smelling rain that is so entwined within my memory it seems bone-deep. With the spring weather comes a revitalization in my spirit; winter really can seem like a death to me at times. When the sun and spring precipitation re-emerge (often forming spectacular rainbows, as we were treated to today) I feel like the clouds are clearing.

of needlesharp ire

Yesterday in my belly dancing class we learned to hold the veil and work with it while dancing. Holding the veil hurt the claw part of my hand, because I’ve been handsewing more of late.  The pain in my extremeties served a bittersweet reminder of my love and bondage; it spoke aloud of something that will be with me for the life I have, as long as I’m able:

Because I love sewing. Times one million.

I’ve been sewing since tempus immemoria, i.e. always.  And over the years I’ve been annoyed by, to some extent large or small, the following:

1.  The elitist, sizeist, racist, ableist, etc. buffet our current glut of craft books and websites are serving up. This needs so much unpacking I had to write up a separate post.

2.  “You should / could sell those!” Really?  Because I’ve never heard anyone say that before.  Or no wait, I hear it all the time.

I understand this is delivered as a compliment 99.44% of the time.  That’s cool.  And it’s interesting that from the lips of so many springs the concept that the ultimate compliment is deigning my work fit for commoditization or earning potential.  Huh.

A tip: those who sell things usually mass-produce them at some level.  This is not for everyone.  Some of us who sew shudder at the very thought of making two identical pillowcases (hello!), let alone churning out one after another diaper cover. Some sewists thrive on this sort of thing, sure. I personally know several. But when someone spies my crayon roll- up (genius!) and says you should sell those, they don’t seem to realize if I took their “advice” I’d be making a bunch of crayon roll-ups instead of other stuff, and the resultant item would be something that would either end up being more expensive than I could unload easily, or it would necessitate a whole wholesale fabric / factory-style construction / mailing center / production workshop.  And me making the same thing over and over.  And: no.

These days I simply smile and say, “If I sold them I wouldn’t have time to sew for my family.”  Ralph says I’m getting good at this.

What I say to other crafters:

“Wow, that’s fantastic.”
“How long did that take you to make?”
“Do you sell those?”
“I’m impressed.  How long have you been making those?”

3. “My mom/Granny/whomever used to make all our clothes.” Really? Did she do anything else, ever? Did she bonsai kitten you into a glass jar so you didn’t grow?

I have no doubt some moms (grandmothers, aunts, fathers, etc. etc.) did in fact make close to 100% of their progeny’s garments (though: socks? underwear? shoes? really?). However the number of times I hear this, I’m pretty sure many have exaggerated. Before I sewed a lot I used to say this about my own childhood wardrobe and I think I’ve even heard my mom say it. Until I look at the pictures in the photo album and yeah, I’m rockin’ some homemade digs but a lot of non-homemade stuff too.  To the extent cheap labor and crappy enviro-pillage occurs it’s currently a bit cheaper to buy ready-made (although not necessarily quality) than the materials and time-effort going into homemade.  This wasn’t always the case, though, and some people did used to sew quite a bit.

It annoys me to hear it because it’s all part of a conversation that cheapens the time and effort needed for high-quality, sturdy clothes. As if a half-hour a day thrown here or there could clothe a growing family.

What you could consider saying to crafters instead:

“My mom/Granny/whomever used to sew clothes for me. I loved (/hated) them!”
“How much time did it take to make that?”
“How much time do you spend sewing?”
“I seem to remember my mom made so much of our clothing. I wonder why so few do so now.”

4. “Will you make me one of those?  I could pay you [ some incredibly small amount for your time and the materials ].”

These days I will do it for free or not at all.  Because first off, again, my goals do not include earning currency. Secondly, if I charged someone a fair price it would be more than most people are willing to pay (trust me!).  So the offer of $25 for a full dress and pintucked pinafore, including fabric costs, is insulting (true example!).  But a request for a gift is flattering (I may not say yes, but it never hurts to ask).

5.  “OMG I would love to sew but I just don’t have time.”

Right.  I have loads of it to spare!  Why don’t I come over and do the rest of your lifework so you can sew, if you’re not too busy!

OK, no more sarcasm, but: Hey guess what!  I made all that time!  I elbowed other things out of the way!  It has been long, mostly joyous, occasionally hard, haul! It’s not like I just had time lying around!

6. “OMG, did you make that?  That is so cool!  I totally want to sew but I just can’t get past blah-blah, one time I made such-and-such, and everyone loved it blah-blah”

My sewing is All About You, so thank you!

7.  “You need new curtains?  Why don’t you just make them?  You can sew anything!”

FUCK YOU*, I totally hate sewing lots of things, including home dec, duvets, cushion-covers, etc. Just because I can make things doesn’t mean it wouldn’t kill my soul to undertake the effort (recent potholder-fail, I am looking at you!).

[ / asshattery, mine ]

* I don’t literally think “Fuck you” towards hardly anyone, it’s more like I think “fuck you” towards curtains.

everybody needs a mentor

“Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are” is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you reread.
РFran̤ois Mauriac

Many of my heroes aren’t even real people but perhaps fictional – maybe even ideas of people.  Teachers long dead who weren’t even real in the first place.

Case in point: Sherlock Holmes.  In my mind and my heart – my nose in a book as long as I can remember – he’s never been the tweed-cloaked stodgy Brit with a magnifying glass, all smart and superior.  No, in revisiting his improbable adventures year after year, forward and backwards, he has been someone I know, someone I feel a kinship to, someone more corporeal to me than words on a page.  I own only a handful of books and at present two of them are Sherlock Holmes volumes (one on indefinite loan from Saint Placid’s Priory, the other a free paperback I’d found at the library).

The words of his stories still thrill me in the delicious way I feel when spending time with someone who satisfies me through-and-through; last night I read “The Adventure of The Speckled Band”, and sank my teeth into the passage which introduces the despicable Dr. Roylott – and Holmes’ handling of this villainous personage:

“But what, in the name of the devil!”

The ejaculation had been drawn from my companion by the fact that our door had been suddenly dashed open, and that a huge man framed himself in the aperture.  His costume was a peculiar mixture of the professional and of the agricultural, having a black top-hat, a long frock-coat, and a pair of high gaiters, with a hunting-crop swinging in his hand.  So tall was he that his hat actually brushed the cross bar of the doorway, and his breadth seemed to span it across from side to side.  A large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles, burned yellow with the sun, and marked with every evil passion, was turned from one to the other of us, while his deep-set, bile-shot eyes, and the high thin fleshless nose, gave him somewhat the resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey.

“Which of you is Holmes?” asked this apparition.

“My name, sir, but you have the advantage of me,” said my companion, quietly.

“I am Dr. Grimesby Roylott, of Stoke Moran.”

“Indeed, Doctor,” said Holmes, blandly.  “Pray take a seat.”

“I will do nothing of the kind.  My stepdaughter has been  here.  I have traced her.  What has she been saying to you?”

“It is a little cold for the time of the year,” said Holmes.

“What has she been saying to you?” screamed the old man furiously.

“But I have heard that the crocuses promise well,” continued my companion imperturbably.

“Ha! You put me off, do you?” said our new visitor, taking a step forward, and shaking his hunting-crop.  “I know you, you scoundrel!  I have heard of you before.  You are Holmes the meddler.”

My friend smiled.

“Holmes the busybody!”

His smile broadened.

“Holmes the Scotland Yard jack-in-office.”

Holmes chuckled heartily.  “Your conversation is most entertaining,” said he.  “When you go out close the door, for there is a decided draught.”

“I will go when I have had my say.  Don’t you dare to meddle with my affairs.  I know that Miss Stoner has been here – I traced her!  I am a dangerous man to fall foul of.  See here.” He stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with his huge brown hands.

“See that you keep yourself out of my grip,” he snarled, and hurling the twisted poker into the fireplace, he strode out of the room.

“He seems a very amiable person,” said Holmes, laughing.  “I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own.” As he spoke he picked up the steel poker, and with a sudden effort straightened it out again.

Ah, how this account struck terror, adventure, admiration, a kind of glowing pride to read it!

Holmes wasn’t smart, not really.  He had a good memory but was – rather than the deductive reasoner he is renowned for being – above all things: intuitive.  He was by turns anti-social and deeply amused by the company of the unwashed masses (or uptight nobility), living a life completely his own outside a society obsessed with social niceties.  He was a poor housekeeper, a smoker, and an occasional cocaine fiend, by turns energetic and lazy.  He didn’t work for money but for the work itself, and he allowed clients to pay him what they could afford.  He was at ease undercover in an opium den or in rooms of State, with palpitating damsels or remorseless thugs.  He loved his friend and partner Watson – deeply – but he was not demonstrative or given to emotional outbursts (FTW and totally relatable! Because as my friend Abi likes to say, I am “not a hugger”).  He was strong but not a bully.  He was brave but had nothing to prove to anyone.  He was a bright star but he was Human, and human in way I could relate to even as a young girl.  And he was Free.

How I wanted to be Holmes, as a child. It almost seems in some way I did live his life – in between building forts behind the train tracks with my brother, swinging on the tire swing in our aged and venerable willow tree, the life I lived free when I wasn’t preoccupied by Doing Well in School, which was apparently my job and since I did that, people were more or less happy with me (what shit rewards that all turned out to be!).  Holmes was a part of me that wanted to follow my own lights.

I wonder if I still have time to do so.

Oh yeah, and since you asked? Yeah, I saw the recent movie version. And I didn’t like it much. It wasn’t my Holmes at all.

balls. part deux. (also: trolls)

I got my first anonymous hater today:

Wow. So artfully self-aggrandizing and self-effacing, yet so ANGRY, defensive. Root emotion: anger = FEAR. What are you so afraid of? Your smart readers must do so only to shake their heads. So sad. I’ll be looking for your caustic, derisive response.

The person who wrote this formspring query had emailed me previously – a much more level-headed criticism – but apparently didn’t like my response. Instead of moving herself on to read other blogs, she felt she’d take me down a peg.

Not to be a downer on formspring, but I thought I would post this to let people know that anonymity can often foster hateful language. Those of us who write online – and attach our own names to our writing – get this sort of thing now and then.

Anecdotally: I’ve always thought the root emotion of anger is hurt, not fear. But I’m open to other opinions!

OK, of course, I know what several of you smarties are thinking: “That doesn’t deserve a response!” And goddamn it, you’re probably right!  And yet, this formspring flame is a timely one for me and is touching on something that’s been on my mind:

In the handful of months since I’ve opened comments on my blog, I have been receiving good comments fostering lively discussion – and, behind the scenes: private picking-at-me emails and, now, my first anonymous hate-mail (um, yay?).

This is truly incredible and I’d like to give you a minute to think about this.

People have been reaching out to talk to me since I’ve been blogging – six years.  Before I opened comments I received DMs, IMs, emails, Facebook responses, snail mail letters, people stopping me in the street and phone calls from across the country.  These communications have often been supportive, grateful, and complimentary;  many asked for my advice or my perspective.  Occasionally these communications directly challenged my assertions or writings (this is a sensitive-New-Age way of saying: people would argue with me).  And always, always these experiences have been worthwhile to engage in.  Every single one.

Things have changed.

Yes, I know who wrote the formspring snark*; if I chose, could email this person and say, “Hey dude, not cool”, or ignore this person or write them and their opinions off, or whatever (I do think a focused post about my ANGRY would be good – although of course, I pretty much happily trot the subject out often enough).  But let me stay on point for now:

I have a lot of readers at this point, a number that has grown over the years. I have many lurkers – that is, people who read and never comment, never email, never let me know they’re there (or who perhaps eventually reveal they’ve been there, for years). I figure it makes sense that eventually I’d get a couple readers who read me and discover they don’t like me, yet – and this is the icky part – keep reading.  I know this could be true, in part because I myself have hate-lurked on a blog, chewing myself up inside about someone whose life, for whatever reason, got on my tits because it was too preachy or too consumerist or too slutty or whatever.  I’m not proud that I did this or that I had these feelings.  I’ve moved on from reading specific publications because I realized it was toxic for me to stay; I was unable to engage the author in a productive, dialogue-inducing way and keep my mind open to who they are; I was both intolerant of and tormented by our differences.  Until I self-corrected I would hate, obsess, chew over why the person or author was wrong or gross or whatever.  I’ve never made a secret out of my own Hater tendencies, because they are a part of me.

What sucks for me is that I don’t publicize my blog as a prescriptive worldview nor a direct communication to specific parties. This is my journal.

So, for instance, my recent personal litany on what people so often say to me about having kids out of school was not a dogmatic denouncement of public or private schools for all parties; the social construction of education is one I am not well-versed in – yet – and I have not been asked to weigh in on by anyone, ever. (If you do wonder what I believe about the vast majority of standard education, and how my life fits into the world at large, I’d direct you to this jaw-droppingly amazing article by Eva Swindler; she’s an actual authority writing professional copy by the way).  I am a human being and you are seeing me in all my humanness; I keep very little private from this journal.

Yeah, I’m aware my thought processes challenge people.  Maybe, reader, you don’t feel particularly challenged, but I want to tell you I get told this all the time; in fact, I’ve often been told this is one of the best things about knowing me (other reasons: my compassion, my cooking, my breasts).  Seriously, in the last week this is what I’ve heard about my writing from about a half dozen parties: “amazing writer”, “on another level”, “hard to follow”, “witty and fast”, “jumps around a lot”, “perfection” (ego-zing! on that last one). Even being handed the shit-sandwich from formspring I know, in theory anyway, that someone who makes character attacks and says I’m “so sad” is, in fact, likely very threatened by what I say, which means hey, maybe I’m saying something worth saying.

Yet, of course, if anyone out there sets me up as Enlightened (or, alternatively, SO SAD AND ANGRY), they are using my very human expression against me to insist I’m not fully human.  This feels like infringement – in both cases.

Because I am not at some “level” of awesome (holy shit, do you even READ here?) or, alternatively, someone who is JUST a sad, frightened, judgy person (duh).  I am just as insecure and brittle and flawed and shitty as the next person.  Writing has been the sole tool I’ve used to know myself.

Oh my god, that reminds me: writing.  When some people say “such-and-such has saved my life”?  This is writing, for me.  And not writing some nicey-pants stuff nor trying-to-say-the-least-(or most!)-offensive-thing. Or like, “I saw my kids playing by the pond today and I realized, this is Life, like seeing a newborn kitten in a sunset” stuff.  I have been trying to say the Me, trying to express myself and I am getting pretty good at it.  Expressing myself.  My best ever writing is when I feel I have really told you who I am, what I think, how I behaved. And I know it’s not always pretty (although sometimes, it’s sublime).  In fact, I love keeping my journal so much I will never stop as long as I’m able.

So getting another I think you should be careful with your language because you are saying things I don’t like email, then a few “I don’t always agree with everything you say” prefaces (from people who asked me to open comments, but have never used the comment function), then “you’re sad, caustic, derisive” – well, it just starts feeling a bit frustrating.  And assy.  Because, you know, fuck off.  This is my diary.  It really is.  I am terribly sorry if at any point I gave the impression this is Life Lessons from Kelly Who-Gives-An-Arse Hogaboom (incidentally: this site is not my diary and would likely be the closest I’d come to claiming “professional” copy, although P.S., I don’t get paid for shit, ever).  Because, you know, it isn’t.

So, yeah, comments.  I know if I close comments things will shift back to where they are more comfortable for me; indeed, my closest loved ones have suggested this.  But the majority of the comments here on my blog have been edifying and delightful.  And I’m not sure I should do things to make myself more comfortable (although yes, I hear you – this really is my space to do whatever I want).

Oh and! Because seriously, everyone tells me I’m smart and intimidating and “rock-solid” and it seems nothing hurts me?  (No seriously, I have been told this three times by three different women this week).  Just to be clear: anonymous hate and snark directed at me, personally?

Yes, it hurts.  Like, upon reading the words on the screen my chest constricted and I felt flushed and Terrible as a Person and like I wanted to Make It Go Away, for several minutes.  I felt Wrong in everything I said and Hated and so pathetic and somehow it’s right I should be hated on, because I have a public blog and write about my life (of course, as a lady I really do “deserve it”), and I have opinions and show my ass and stuff.

Funny thing.  Writing this all out helped.  Huh.

* I’m not sure why people don’t know that first of all they use some of the same phraseology, grammatical errors, figures of speech, and the same tone; secondly, I can “see” people when they are online so thus when a query or comment pops up it isn’t as if I hadn’t seen their recent tweet, or IM status, or whatever; thirdly, that as popular as I am to read it is rare the EXACT ONE SUBJECT gets up the ass of two separate people in the same exact way, so if someone already emailed me then followed up with an anonymous formspring post, well. Yeah.  I know it’s you.