on being a tailor: #realness

Three sisters doing needlework on the verandah of their Toowong home, ca. 1918

The fiber arts are here to stay. I don’t want to hear one more blessed word about how “sewing is a dying art” and, “it’s too expensive to make clothes” when our entire retail and internetz worlds are scrote-deep in knitting, crochet and quilting books, blogs, magazines, craft fairs, and meetups.

I make garments. I mean – I can, and do, mess with that abovementioned stuff occasionally. But clothing is my forte. My beginning, middle and end. My alpha and omega. I don’t make clothing via mass-production or support my habit through any other social-media-saturated hustle, and it chaps my arse when people tell me I should.

Me? I am like many struggling tailors before me: educated first as a child in a lineage of home sewing, emboldened via experts and tuition for classes, and – most importantly – forged in the crucible of a whole, whole lotta trial and error, groping through books and other printed material, and mashing my way through acres of fabrics. And, it must be said: failing many, many times! #theStrugglesIsReal

In my world, sewing ain’t all that cute!

First, and foremost, you need to know I can obsess on garment design and construction like you might not understand. At any given moment I am probably creating at least one item, and planning about five more. In fact if you’ve ever spoken to me in person and you can tell I’m listening, you are speaking to me in a rare state where Kelly’s home. Enough said.

silence of the lambs

This drive has resulted in sometimes regrettable, epic battles at my machines. Where I sometimes lose.

zoolander

I am only not sewing out of a barely-maintained modicum of social courtesy. There sure are an awful lot of meetings and gatherings where it would not be mindful or courteous participation if I brought my hand-sewing, so I don’t. Yes, I cry a little on the inside. But I try to focus on the task at hand.

happyness
And hey – what is all this shit about scissors? You’ll see this in a lot of “things to know about people who sew” top ten lists: don’t cut paper with our fabric scissors! tee hee!

But – really? My family doesn’t mess with my scissors. Maybe they know when it comes down to it, I will spend their grocery money on new ones!

Also: AS IF I don’t always have a set out being sharpened, and one or two pair at home ready to rock!

scissorhands

Stitcher’s kryptonite… it’s real. You know, something that I should avoid, but will lure me to my doom, every time. In my specific case, I have to make rules about when I allow myself to shop for wool tweeds. And I can’t pass by a vintage sewing machine selling for practically nothing at a local thrift store.

propane

Yeah, I can get a little obsessive. Certain large-chain stores coupon schemes-I-mean-programs are an organizing factor in life. 

crazy eye

“Sew your own wardrobe!” is flippantly hailed (by non-sewists) as a way for plus-size women to finally have decent clothes. But: 

sewing didn’t solve my self-esteem issues… 

Thing is, I used to fly up my own rear end obsessing on fit. But the endless tweaking of pattern blocks can be a real red herring when what we’re often dealing with are body image problems and aspirational thinness-fantasy, which plague women mercilessly. I know a lot of sewists who make garment after garment for themselves – only to never be satisfied: making tweaks and adjustments and endlessly looking for “the right pattern”.

zoolander

… except when it did!

The good news is, I stuck to it. I stopped kidding myself I liked styles that I didn’t like. I found some mentors built like me who love how they look and love to sew for themselves. And I think I got so tired of obsessing on my body’s supposed flaws and supportive undergarments and “flattering” patterns and stripes and shit that I just moved on.

tuscan

Sewing is so much fun I want to share it – with everyone! After a while I got pretty good. And I found along the way that there are totally mean, snarky people out there who are forever talking trash about beginners and bloggers…

h8rs

… but I don’t have to be one of them!

sunshine

I’ve sewn for over thirty years. My experience in the craft has been full of successes, sure – but also so many, many mistakes, and regrettable choices…

sideways

that at a certain point, I started getting fearless.

reno

I am no longer a perfectionist (although my pieces are often perfect – hey-oh!). I can take risks. I can cut into that fabulous yardage instead of saving it for a rainy day. If I’m not happy with the end result – I gift it to someone who will be. And for my pains, I have made a lot of garments which are either rockin’ it on my hot bod – or out there somewhere, making someone happy!

So yeah. Sewing as a Life Choice isn’t for the faint of heart. But I’ve stuck to it long enough that these days I sew exactly what I want, when I want

and I love it!

the dude

HAVE YOU OR HAVE YOU NOT

noticed I’ve been watching all these old films so YOU can be convinced to watch them TOO!

So like … Christopher Lee? Sneering his way around the place as a bony, condescending professor. OMG I think I’m in love!
City of the Dead (1960)

Um, a Japanese zombie/karaoke/claymation/horror/sweet family epic?

And an actually beautiful, romantic, stylish not-so-horror film:

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

Some more Japanese nuttiness but I promise, way lowkey compared to Katikuris:

The Golden Bat (1966)

Then there’s a man in a big rubbery suit. HOW DARE U JUDGE ME

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

It is lonely being a woman, in B-movieland. Not even kidding. Join meeeeee

Is that a pedipalp in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

No, we don’t have a new pet. Trust me.

"Spidey"
“Hi, I’m a cuddly living nightmare that seems almost adorable if you look at me while in repose, but then when I move I instantly remind you of all that is horrid in the Universe. BLARGH BLARGH BLARGH”

It’s 10:30 PM and I’ve been balls-to-the-wall most the day. Normally I live a joyous life and I can handle my responsibilities. But today I found myself behind the eight-ball on a deadline. I made my deadline, and for that I am grateful. But I worked myself pretty hard today.

So anyway here’s one thing we got up to today I’m not too tired to post briefly about, my kids ran home cradling a “cute” neighborhood tarantula named… well, you can watch the video if you like.

do you like horses

ridikkulous

A letter from Mohandas Ghandi to Hitler. I do not joke. Hey, those without Google+, can you see this link, or do I need to correct it?

Film review: excellence, excellence at Tiger Beatdown re: American Psycho (the book and film); also, some “Crazy Bitches” from seminal films of my childhood, offered up at Bitch Media. Finally: Tropes vs. Women: The Mystical Pregnancy from Feminist Frequency. #w00t

This Is Not an Onion Parody of How Fox News Would Cover Obama’s Birthday

Weight Stigma – Why it hurts… by Janet Zimmerman

I submit this piece in rebuttal to the many who think self-shaming (and other-shaming) are necessary or productive forces with regard to “health” (meaning, weight/size). The science is in (and has been and continues to support the fact that): weight/size stigma leads to more weight fluctuation, long-term weight gain, disordered eating, and low self-esteem. As a parent and someone who works with and sees a lot of kids on a daily basis – and loves these children deeply (“fat shaming for four year olds”, just the most recent piece in the blogosphere), I – frankly – want the cycle to end.

But, I always have to laugh about studies on social justice issues – because people will continue to believe their bias in the face of any evidence, and I know this. If science doesn’t convince my dear reader, I’d ask you to look deep into your heart and ask if shame and guilt and fighting with ourselves (and others) has ever brought you true, lasting, happy, healthy change – while keeping you present for, caring of, and compassionate towards others.

I’ll wait.

Meanwhile! Make: Indestructible Capri Sun Wallets

Fake logos from the movies! This? Is so incredibly cool. Your favorite?

Reviewed at Bantam Street: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962). Classic! And one of my first exposures to “MST3K”; I’d love to see “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” version.

Pretty: “Auntie Peggy Has Departed”, an art installation

I was asked what “snorgling” means. Here’s a definition. And here is a tutorial:

 
The table of contents for the next Life Learning Magazine. I seriously cannot wait, especially for Couture and Swindler’s pieces.

Finally: last night Amber, Jasmine & I were tasked with coming up with band names for Ralph & co, re: his latest music project. Here are some he rejected (probably representing about …. 25% of our silly assery):

Assquatch (also, sadly, already taken and… all kinds of horrible)
Muffintops
Vulva
Grassbacks
Marble Smugglers
Summer’s Eve
Angeltits
Vagzilla
Shit On A Shingle
Pap Schmear
Duck Lips
Snakelight (these latter three were from our gynecological-exam inspirations)
Shart Week*
Showboat Pork N Beans

do you like horses

* Ralph later corrected me: It’s Shart Weak.

so i’m at least not a horrific goblin, or at least not all of the time, despite my occasional lapses into Suck

I received two emails today, hard upon the heels of one another. They read, in part, as follows:

you happy? For the week following your email, I haven’t been able to do a lick of email work – AND IT’S YOUR FAULT. Engrossed as I’ve been with reading your stuff, I’ve kept wondering if there is an end to this wonderful tunnel of love & freedom. Lovit, lovit, lovit! Where did you get the devotion-to-kids, the insights, the compassion, the courage to be so open and vulnerable and brave the brickbats that are inevitably visited upon anyone as free? I’ve worked on it for more than the last half of my life (I’m 81), and I just get stronger and more dedicated. But then, I’m a trained Buddhist (Bodhisattva), with 40 years of daily meditation practice, so slings and arrows are just slings and arrows, nothing personal, nothing more.

I believe I love you. (So much for training in detachment.)

and then:

I am writing because I want to say thank you. There is no way for you to know how much you have inspired and uplifted me simply by being you and sharing it. I love to read your blog. At first, it was just out of curiosity. A friend or another directed me to it. I honestly don’t remember where, how or even who. (As a former Hoquiamite myself it could have been any number of people.)

I was deeply impacted by the realness, the simple beauty of life through your expressions. It has helped me challenge myself to be a better person. I find myself re thinking so many things because of your perspective. Thank you for putting yourself out there. For sharing pieces of your heart and soul. It has made a difference in my life. I just wanted you to know. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

Yeah.  So, there’s no downside to these missives. Thank you, readers – those who write, yes, but also those who read here and in any way find themselves helped, or pleased, or laugh. I know I can be so terribly dark-sided and I am glad to know that is not the only thing people find in me.

So, thank you Universe.

My daughter has been a solitary animal of late, little satisfied with her lot in life despite our (for the most part) compassionate acceptance of her difficulties.  She is quick to disappear into a book, sitting out in my mother’s old pickup truck in the afternoon sunshine.  I am both sad for her sufferings and impressed by her ability to be alone with herself, her autonomy.  She comes in a half hour later and is calmed; she seeks me out.  During the day, as busy as I get I try to lay down or sit down and, like our male cat, she comes to find me and be next to me. This is when she opens up, when she heals from whatever has been hurting her.  We lay in bed together and I feel her hands gently patting at me and I smell her hair (sweet or creepy? you decide!) and I know she is finding something in me that helps her find her way.

Mi Niña Sophita Y Yo

I am seriously so glad my kids got their looks from Ralph, or someone else.  Seriously, it’s no big deal being homely.  Just, it’s boring.  Come on, you know what I’m talking about.

Oh, and don’t be all commenting that I’m pretty or whatever. Or I will roll my eyes so hard you’ll hear them clicking.

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.

i’m an expert on stuff

I’m not an expert on anything. But I have a very busy brain (note I did not say “smart”, “productive”, or omit “frenetic”) and love writing! I love it so much! Today I am going public with my little co-op site Underbellie, which my girl Jasie and I are trying out. What you can expect: a focus on pointed rants rather than personal anecdotes and a Twitter feed that updates infrequently. And most importantly, more Kelly Hogaboom.

I am proud of today’s bit: a rejoinder to the recent Details magazine article, “Are You Raising a Douchebag?” (their answer: here’s some fun hate for hipster parents!). Daniel Bigler wrote a more culturally-informed (not to mention brief) response over at his blog. He’s a good egg, that Daniel.

I also have started a Formspring account. I asked my husband why it seemed it wasn’t catching on for more people. He said, “it seems kind of vain to me.” It’s true! Who gives a shit about anything I have to say, ever? And yet, if thee wish to ask me a question anon, have at it, I say.

definitely, definitely breaking a blogging rule

If you think this list is in response to the recent Facebook “Post 25 things about yourself” inter-meme, you’re correct; but this is the second twenty-five I’ve come up with. Being my FB friend is fun – if by “fun” I mean you will soon defriend me in response to my crass sense of humor or my verbosity.

***

1. My family lived in a bus until I was eight. It had planets painted on it. And parents inside, usually smoking weed or whatever.

2. I will leave the house with no makeup or my hair untouched after a shower; but I hate finding out I’ve left the house without earrings. Despite this I only have four pair of earrings. I guess what I’m saying is, my birthday is coming up, and I really like earrings.

3. I find elevators creepy; I guess I’ve seen too many movies where something horrible happens just as they’re opening or closing.

4. I love the smell of grilled onions but loathe eating them and avoid it if at all possible.

5. People who act distant or superior irritate me. When I was younger, I’d make them a sexual conquest (usually, but not always, successfully). Now I try to feel compassion; it’s a self-defense response.

6. I can’t remember a time in my life people didn’t regularly corner me or lay out some life scenario and ask for my feedback or advice.

7. At night when I’m hovering around sleep I rub my feet back and forth on one another. Actually, this feels very personal to admit to for some reason.

8. Besides my children, I am not always demonstrative (physically or verbally) toward people I love, but I love them very, very fiercely. I think about them a lot during my day.

9. I get emails out of the blue often, from people who read my blog(s).

10. Despite being a relatively tidy housekeeper, I truly do not judge people with messier houses, although most of my girlfriends apologize for their house when I enter it. WTF? I think I should start giving them side-eye and saying, “Yeah. You need to clean this shit UP.”

11. I try to be completely honest. If I think ahead and realize something I want to say isn’t helpful, I will stay silent. This means I’m quiet around my mother a lot in response to stuff she tells me. She probably thinks I’m not listening or don’t care, which is a shame.

12. I am an alcoholic.

13. Things I do not own: a credit card, a cell phone, a bought-new car, a house, a television set, and a microwave. I’ve never owned the first four.

14. I gambled once at a casino. BORRRRING. Don’t need to do that again.

15. I am not dumb but I can’t follow “caper” movies. I’m like the guy Jerry Seinfeld joked about, whispering in the theater, “Wait, why’d they kill that guy? I thought he was with them. What? He wasn’t with them? Oh, then it’s a good thing they killed him.”

16. I believe Jesus Christ was here on earth and was the son of God. I didn’t believe this until adulthood. I am not very devout, but I love making Jesus Christ jokes a LOT. Maybe that counts for something.

17. The personal vice I’m most often guilty of is Projection. Followed closely by a devastating addiction to sailor porn. Just kidding about one of those.

18. I love teaching and I love writing, and I hate that when I do both things I hear myself sounding like an arrogant know-it-all.

19. I love spicy food. LOVE IT! (I am currently eating burritos slathered in Tapatio.)

20. I love my brother more than he loves me, and I’m okay with that.

21. I love watching movies (and a few television shows). If you conjure up the following you will probably have most of “me”: Blue Velvet, “Strangers With Candy”, Anchorman, “The Office” (BBC), American Psycho, “Deadwood”, and “The Wire”. I’ve cried tears of joy at some point during all of those.

22. I think my dad’s persona and style of parenting was just perfect for me.

23. My kids think I make the best food, ever. This #23 was added at my daughter’s request.

24. I am a compulsive hand-washer and I always worry I might smell bad. P.S. please do not take this opportunity to email me and say the latter is true, I’m not sure I could handle hearing that now.

25. I am not scared of crazy, loud, weird, retarded, or old people. However if someone is mean to me in any way at all it will make me want to cry.

***

Hmm. Maybe it’s possible to know too much about someone.

"shocking as it may sound, i am not the first writer to sip a little weed."

Tonight I met and then surpassed the required 4/5ths word count for my novel – a project driven by NaNoWriMo or “National Novel Writing Month”. I will be done by the end of the month, and then I can go back to not hating to write.

It’s one thing to say writing is important, to write regularly, to spend minutes and hours a day crafting blog posts and return emails and Facebook chatter and zine articles. It’s another to decide to, out of my brain, craft an entire fictional story and commit it to paper.

What’s the book about? Everyone I know – no wait, about four people – ask what my book is about. Meh. It’s not that I can’t describe it, it’s that I kind of don’t want to – like bad, obligatory sex*, I’d like to get it over with. And maybe edit it. And sure, yes, print it out and hand it around to those who express interest. I did tell Ralph the premise – while biking – and he listened with interest and didn’t even pull back his head, snort, and say, “That’s duuuumb.” So, that was nice.

Today I had to catch up by writing over 4,000 words. This was rather painful. My family supported me: the kids getting their own breakfast and tidying the living room, my husband keeping on my case – gently – until I’d finished the task. For this I thank them. As well as their inspirations for the characters around the claustrophobic, psychotic young mother driven mad by her depressingly clingy, whiny family. I kid, I kid!

Remember that scene in The Naked Gun 33 1/3 where after a day of undercover work at a sperm bank Detective Frank Drebin comes home and pours a bucket of ice over his nuts?**

I’m going to go do that to my wrists.

* Note: this author does not engage in bad, obligatory sex. But she does apparently write bad, obligatory novels.

** Of course you remember; who hasn’t seen this seminal cinematic masterpiece?