LAYERS

Chris snapped my Self Portrait Sunday picture for me last night when we got home from an evening out with Alex. We’d hit the local comic book and game shop for them to play Star Trek Heroclix . I don’t care for strategy based games, but I do love tiny starships and the company of geeks, so it all works out. Afterwards, we picked up Alex’s sister, Lucy, and their mom to go out to dinner. A good time was had by all.

I’m not getting all deep with my SPS with a title like “Layers” or at least not tonight. My outfit yesterday brought to mind an article I read on Cracked a while back, The 7 Most Baffling Things About Women’s Clothes. As per usual, the piece is dead on. Thing point I held on to the most is who clothes are deliberately designed in such a way to require layering. Be it see through fabric or cuts which would reveal even the most discreet strapless bra. “Bra showing” isn’t a look I’m willing to condone.

The layering trend is has gotten to the point where it’s unavoidable. It’s even worse for girls with boobs. The dress I wore would be fine without anything under it on a someone with a smaller chest. I even wore it once like that not realizing how badly it would shift over the evening. Earlier in the week, I found the perfect printed tank-top on clearance and thought, at least if they’ve got me trapping into buying a second piece of clothing to wear with my dress, I spent less than $3 on it. I think I got the dress for $6, so overall a great deal. It’s cold enough out that tights are a must. The sweater is many years old and from Torrid. I was pleased with the look and might try more tanks and camis in the future. Darn fashion industry.

HOW TO USE, ADAPT, AND DESIGN SEWING PATTERNS

This week’s musing asks… What is the last book that you learned something from? What book was it, and what did it teach you?

 

It is entirely likely friends and readers are sick to death of hearing about my sewing adventures. I sympathize. I can’t wait to be less focused on sewing for a bit, but I trudge on.

The success I’ve had in modifying a pattern and completing a muslin mockup of my dress for our Klingon wedding performance in April is in large part thanks to How to Use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns: From store-bought patterns to drafting your own: a complete guide to fashion sewing with confidence by Lee Hollanhan. The copy Chris got me for Christmas is destined to be dog-eared.

I’ve mentioned it in a couple posts, but I cannot say enough good things about it.

One thing I’ve found in learning crafts in general and sewing specifically is most instructions assume a certain level of familiarity with the basic skills and terminology. This book starts at the beginning of it’s subject matter assuming no knowledge and even includes a section in the back with basic sewing techniques.

Now, I didn’t go into this a total novice, but I being primarily self taught, I would not have known to iron my pattern pieces (who would think you could iron paper?) or how serrated scissors are the best option for silky fabrics. Clear illustrations and color photography show things I’d always thought I’d need an experienced sewer to teach me in person. Like laying out patterns on stripped or patterned fabric. Now, I haven’t tried it yet, but I feel like I could do it referencing the pictures in the book.

Hands down, the most useful part of the book for my needs is the chart with all the body parts to be measured for comparison to the pattern measurements complete with explanation and diagrams. I wouldn’t have known where to start without those seventeen points of reference. Add the section showing how to modify store bought patterns made my project possible. Now, I will say, the part on modifying pattern pieces was only the start of what I ended up having to do. Both the shape of the dress and my body shape differ substantially from the examples, but apply the principles I learned in the book, some common sense and geometry got me where I needed to go.

INK AND DRAGONS

Nostalgic toy favorite: Barbie or Easy Bake Oven? Barbie. Duh. Only I don’t think of her as nostalgic, but as modern and as widely appealing as can be. Mattel is genius for making playsets for toddlers all the way up through retirees who can’t resit Lucy or Tippi Hendren. I’ve always been a Barbie girl. Always will be.

Never going anywhere or Never settling down? Tough question. I haven’t lived a very settled live thus far, but I am perfectly willing to settle down. On the other hand, I’ve moved more times in my lifetime than I’ve taken actual vacations. In the last year, I’ve made headway in correcting the imbalance and it’s awesome. I’d hate to give up travel just to live in one area forever. So, I guess if I’m picking, never settling down would suit me better than never going anywhere.

Peanuts or Cashews? Cashews. Unsalted, please. Oddly, I live on peanut butter, but am not crazy about peanuts.

Musical movie: Pete’s Dragon or The Sound of Music? Pete’s Dragon. It has a dragon, for goodness sake. And it takes place in Mom’s home state of Maine, so hearing that is a real place made it extra cool.

Tattoo location: Wrist or Lower back? Wrist. If I were to ever get ink, I’d go with a place with a low risk of distortion with the aging process. I’ve considered getting an IDIC at the very top of my back, but enough below my neck to be easily covered with a shirt.

APATHETIC VALENTINE

I don’t care about Valentine’s Day.

Now, I’m admittedly bad at holidays and birthdays. I wasn’t raised with such celebrations being treated as something special or magic, but rather an obligation, if observed at all. We didn’t celebrate Halloween or the pagan bit of Easter, so none of the fun stuff. I’ve worked hard to feel Christmas spirit over the last few years with mixed results. Typically, I start to feel it closer in to the day then I observe most people starting to get jolly and begin to listen to Christmas music. I accept I might never feel about Christmas how someone like my best friend Kate who adores and obsesses over Christmas, but I manage to become a bit less Scrooge-like each year if only to avoid being the person who dampens everyone else’s joy. Same story for the other family orientated holidays.

Valentines Day is a little different as it has less to do with family-of-origin and more to do with social standing.

The way I see it, February 14th is two distinct holidays. First, comes the elementary school class party. Back when I was in school, cupcakes and other sugary treats were allowed, but the center of the celebration were the valentine cards. Being a dorky, shy kid on top of a military brat, I have some truly depressing memories of getting cards made out to “New Girl” or substantially fewer than than the other kids. Nothing is worse when you’re new to a classroom than free time to watch the kids who’ve bonded since September hanging out, loudly socializing.

In middle school and beyond, Valentines is all about couples. Of course, as a thirty-one year old, I can see “dating” before one is old enough to drive or otherwise go on an unchaperoned date is totally pointless. I didn’t sweat it too much at the time either way. For one thing, I still wrote back and forth with my childhood sweetheart until I was around fifteen. For those counting, that makes for a five year long distance relationship. Weird, like most of my life story. In high school, I was jealous of the girls getting balloons and flowers from their boyfriends. Yet it seemed so much showing off and distraction even to my teenaged self.

Through mutual decision, Chris and I have elected not to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I don’t find it’s celebration meaningful. He refers to it as Satan’s birthday. It is our second February together, a milestone more notable for signing a second year lease on our apartment, then by an arbitrary date to which holds no meaning for either of us.

What I don’t understand is the viciousness which some people hate Valentines Day. Sure, our culture is a bit annoying if you’re single (or in any other way non-standard), but you don’t have to play into it. If you’re unhappy being single, work towards not being single. Obviously, I’m not saying to jump into a relationship with someone unsuitable, but putting yourself out there, making friends and becoming the person you want to be is far more productive than sitting around bitching about other people celebrating with some overpriced roses and sappy sentiments. Why do they have the power to make you feel bad? Instead, just plan to go buy chocolate at a steep discount on February fifteenth and, of course, enjoy the cultural mash-ups the internet gives us. The cool card above came from a mutual-geek-franchise set on How to Geek. If you’re going to send Valentines, might as well feature Nathan Fillion in a bonnet.

SUNDAY DRESS

First, I freaking love dresses. It’s no more effort to wear something people assume is fancy. My collection is growing and I have no intention of stopping. Clearance racks are my friends.

I got this sweater dress before Christmas at Ross. The ruffle at the neck line makes me happy. The color is unusual and flattering. It’s warm and comfortable. Sleeves and a modest length made it an obvious choice for today since we’ve getting winter temperatures for the first time in a long time. I picked up the belt and new tights a few days ago. While you can’t see them in the small version of the picture but if you click to enlarge you can see the tights have polka dots. I love polka dots. I didn’t used to like belts for decorative purposes, but I now own three, plus the one I wear with khakis for practical purposes. With something solid like this dress, it feels like I need something to break up the solid block of color, but I am ever vigilant not to break too many visual lines thus making myself appear shorter.

Before I spend to much more time rambling about my all important fashion life, let me tell you about my day.
Finding I had a rare Sunday free and clear from work-type obligations, I’d made plans with Chris‘ parents since I hadn’t seen them in a while. I tagged along to the evening service and Valentine social at their church. Pro tip: Southern Baptists know how to throw a pot luck. “Not a full dinner” was an abundant feast. I think there were four kinds of meatballs and lots of other goodies. My lovely practically-mother-in-law, Sandi, organized a version of The Newlywed Game which she renamed Trulyweds since they didn’t have anyone newly married to pick on. Maybe I’m biased, but the questions she wrote were clever and creative, not to mention in the style of the old game show. It was a hit and all the participants had fun. I had fun and got my parental unit time in, always important, and a reasonable excuse for not having the mock up for my dress done for today’s self portrait as intended. There’s always tomorrow.

SOCIAL INTROVERT

I’ve been searching out memes and writing prompts in more free form than the typical quiz format. I have fun with those and have met a ton of blogging friends participating in them over the years, but they do not allow for a ton of creativity. One of the weekly prompts I found is Friday Question at ilaxStudio, the book of a pretty cool lady named Kim. I’d encourage my meme loving friends to check it out. Oh, and, I still think of it as Friday until I’ve gone to bed.

Today’s Friday Question: What is your definition of introvert/extrovert and which characteristics do you identify with more (introvert, extrovert, in-between)?

For most of my life, I considered myself introverted. Growing up, I didn’t have much of a social life. I really had no social life most of my school age years. Some of the problem was how often we moved around when I was a kid. If I was lucky, I had a friend from school who lived close enough to hang out after school, weekends, and summer vacation. Otherwise, I had my younger brother, books, and Barbies. In high school, things were a little different, but not much. I had a few friends, but still no social life or extra curricular activities. I read and wrote constantly mostly in my room listening to music primarily recorded sometime before my birth. Yeah, I was cool.

It was when I was eighteen that I found my seemingly extroverted side. I’d gone back for my senior year of high school and soon after got hired at Payless ShoeSource. It was my very first job. People don’t think about it this way, but it was a sales and customer service job. I had a great manager who did most of the logistical work of running the store allowing his staff to focus on selling. Something about being given a task and a name tag lifted the vial of shyness. No surprise. For a people pleaser like me simply wants to meet the goals my teachers and now my boss set forth. Following recommendations on my technique, I learned to be the smiling, outgoing sales girl the position required. And I loved it. I loved connecting with a customer as a person. I loved convincing someone to buy an item based on my recommendation. I even loved the horrible customers. I loved talking down an angry customer or getting complements on how nice I was from a truly grating customer. I learned so much about interacting with people.

Only once in the intervening dozen years have I worked in a job that didn’t involve working with the public. I worked as a temp for couple weeks in a factory, light manufacturing. It was awful in large part because I was lonely. No one who meets me would assume I’m introverted or even shy. I love to talk, meet new people, strike up conversations in the grocery line. But I still sometimes felt socially awkward and essentially felt like an introvert inside, wanting to be alone or with someone I was comfortable enough with to be silent much of the time.

So, the question in my mind became: Was I always an extrovert who was simply socially stunted?

I didn’t understand my own duplicity in the area until I read the blog post John Scalzi wrote on the subject, Portrait of a Closet Introvert. I could relate and, most important, he defined the reasons I seemed extroverted, but wasn’t.

Introverts recharge alone. Extroverts recharge in social situations. Plan and simple.

It’s not about liking or disliking people or socializing. I love people. It’s just I need a break to think about what happened when I was out with people before I can handle being with them again. I need to turn off the social part of myself and turn on the intellectual, critical part of myself without distraction. I need to write, read or listen to music. Once I am filled up again with those things which make me feel whole, I can face, even enjoy, just about any interpersonal interaction. Okay, not conflict. I’d rather walk in front of a bus.

Kim, our meme host, posted a great article and quiz (scroll down for quiz) about introverts along with her response to the question. I scored 16 out of 20 for introversion. Extroversion was not tested. I tend, in most physiological tests, to score close to the middle so it is possible I would score moderately extroverted where both traits were considered. Still I am certainly more introverted, but a far happier introvert when I have regular socialization.

UPTOWN LOCAL AND OTHER INTERVENTIONS


I bought Uptown Local and Other Interventions by Diane Duane for two reasons. First, Diane Duane wrote my favorite Star Trek novel. No surprise, it’s Spock’s World, but I don’t just love it because I love Spock. Telling the grand tale of Vulcan from it’s formation as a planet to Kirk’s time (as we think of it in the Federation terms) and interwoven with a complicated plot involving inter-planetary politics and, of course, involving the crew of the Enterprise is an impressive feat of writing. I’m not ashamed to say, multiple points in the book move me to tears.

So when John Scalzi put out a call to his blog readers to buy digital copies of her books from Ebooks Direct while she was dealing with the fallout from fraudulent activity on her bank account. Banks don’t care if you need money to eat and stuff while they sort out the details and I was more than happy to trade a little cash for ebooks. Did I mention, I love my Kindle?

I got Uptown Local and a book by Diane’s husband Peter Morwood which I haven’t read yet.

First, I should say, I love short stories. A well written short story, especially in fantasy and science fiction, the world building and story telling in a small number of words creates a distilled flavor that packs a punch most full length novel can’t match. Almost all the fantasy I’ve read has been in the form of short stories. Maybe that’s because so many fantasy novels are super long and intimidate me. Short stories give me everything I need – dragons and magic and a connection to mythology – without reading for weeks.

One difficult thing about reviewing short story collections is not spoiling the stories. I loved this collection. Some of the stories are set in the universe of Diane’s Young Wizard young adult novels. I want to pick those up based on the strength of these stories. Modern settings for magical stories dominate the collection. The couple revolving around food were very cool and connected to each other but not interdependent. The characters and settings are well developed, again, hard to do in smaller word counts. Establish mythology is played played with and even a famous (dead) writer is called into action to save his hometown.

What happened with Diane’s bank account was terrible and I wouldn’t wish such frustration on anyone, but I’m glad I tried one of her non-Trek books. I won’t be waiting for such an event to pick up some more.