Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Muse is Accustomed to Being Fired


I’ve had to let the muse go due to intense hip, back, shoulder, wrist and hand pain. No longer am I enamored of my patchwork collection, instead I am judging it wanting and a waste of time. It probably isn’t either of those things but the chronic-pain-colored glasses view it as such. Every step I took yesterday hurt my hips like a wide band across my lap, from deep in the joint to radiating outward over the muscles of my thighs. By the end of the day, of course, it was worse and I lost my composure entirely and had a sobbing fit in my bed while the husband and the dog tried to figure out what to do with me.

I suspect my emotional fragility at the moment is partly due to the above and maybe somewhat influenced by hormones (O, perimenopause, you wretched, wretched bitch). While I cavalierly said I didn’t care if I was once again making a collection of things no one would buy, today I DO care about this and perused my Etsy shop just to make myself feel worse. I don’t know why I cling to Etsy when I haven’t the time to devote to keeping it up. It’s the excuse for my thrifting addiction, “I can sell it on Etsy” but no, no I can’t, not consistently. There are times, like today, when I feel like my constant making of things is foolish and sad since rarely do I have an answer to “What will you do with this?” or “Who would buy this?” Earlier this week I was content to simply be creating, happy to be in the process and satisfied by the process and the products. But the process that makes me so happy and satisfied is the same process that means I was in bed crying at 8:00 pm due to pain.

The Shrink and I are working very hard on being in the Now, since that’s the only thing we have any control over. Last night, eyes leaking, my brain kept saying, “Okay, so this is the Now but the Now is horrible and what if it’s the new forever (no, no, forgive yourself for that and go back to now) Now sucks, Now is awful!” Or, as my husband finally put it (canceling out hours of mental looping and self-criticism) “Today’s just a bad day.” Yes. And I have to learn not to then tack on, “And what if tomorrow is, too? Or worse?” Because I don’t know that, and I can’t determine that until tomorrow becomes the Now. It’s a bit of a rabbit hole.

So today is slightly better so far except that I feel like a giant, potentially leaky vessel of tears. I have a massage and maybe that will ease some of the pain. Maybe I will look at my last assemblage of pieces and find it more favorable than I did yesterday. Maybe tonight will not be a night wherein I find myself freaked out about not having pain drugs, sobbing into the dog’s neck and panicking about the future. A future in which I will possibly drown in clothes, fabric, and partially finished quilts.

And, It’s Now An Obsession


Good heavens. I am enslaved to my muse who cares not what we will do with all these patchwork garments. Hell, she won’t even let me think much on how we might be creating yet another burden in terms of clothing I can’t sell. No, I am simply completely smitten with pieces of fabric, quilting with the serger, and debating how many times I will cut something up, assemble it, cut it up again and then assemble it.

Here is the second complete garment:

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Now what? This:

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Once it’s assembled as laid out, I’m going to cut it up again, into maybe 3″ wide strips, then reassemble. Because I am insane. My shoulders are killing me, my hands are killing me, but I can’t stop. At this point, still a long distance from the finish line, I am already casting about for what else I’ll chop up next.

I know where it all ends, I do, yet—I love being engaged in a project.

Oh, Right, Making Things


It all started with making this skirt:

First skirt

Like any costumer worth their salt, I hoard fabric. Some of the fabrics I used in this skirt I’ve had for more than ten years. I used a vintage 1970s pattern for this maxi skirt because instead of gathering (I hate gathering, it’s so tedious) it had a flounced lower section. Once it was done, I got a little bit obsessed with the scraps, and started sewing them together like a crazy quilt until I had enough to make a second garment:

Patchwork prototype dress

This is an 8-gore retro-style sundress that I patterned myself (or, “made up as I went along”). Each time I joined a piece of fabric in the patchwork phase, I serged it, then topstitched the seam allowance so it would all lay nice and flat. Once I finished that, I corralled all the final tiny bits of scraps and made another small section. I thought it would be interesting, artistically, if each garment had an element of the garment that preceded it, so that is waiting to to see how it will be included in round two, which I did in strips:

Patchwork Round Two

What I haven’t decided is if I will take this yardage I’ve made and cut it all up again and re-assemble in a crazier way before I make it into a skirt, or if I’m going to call this the finished fabric and make it into a skirt now. Decisions, decisions.

If you are thinking that this is what’s probably why all my joints hurt, you might be right, but stopping isn’t on the menu when I’ve got a closet full of fabric (plus multiple bins throughout the house) that I could use for this. I plan to list a grouping on Etsy once I have enough, rather than listing them piecemeal as I finish each one. That way it’s a sort of fashion collection. Then we’ll see if they ever happen to sell. That, or I have an amazing new patchwork wardrobe, right?

There Will Be a Break


My Spring Break begins tomorrow. My week can be summed up with this entirely true transcript of a conversation with a student:

Co-worker: Student, go outside and get some small rocks. They need to be smaller than the buttons you are painting so that you can set the buttons on them to dry without them sticking to the rocks.

Student (who wears a perennial expression of surprise/lack of comprehension and speaks at a volume of 11): OH OKAY THE ROCKS I GOT LAST TIME DIDN’T WORK?

Co-worker: No, they were huge rocks so the buttons stuck to them.

Student: OH OKAY.

-goes outside-





Me: Yanno, the rocks aren’t soggy….bring some in and dry them off.


Me: Paper towels?

Co-worker (at the same time as me): Hair dryer?


Headdesk, headdesk, headdesk.

While I have my doubts about the design for the show we are heading into (Shakespeare’s 12th Night), I am building a really cool dress for an actor I really like working with. This is the mock-up (I flat patterned this dress myself, having not found any patterns to work for what the designer wanted):

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It has these cool side pockets that are like a modernized upside down pannier. The actual dress is being built out of this amazing, very heavy, sueded, charcoal gray stretch fabric that feels almost as dense as a wet suit. Here is the base dress:

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Photos do not do justice to how amazing the fabric is. I got the big pockets put on but haven’t photographed it yet because I haven’t closed the center back seam. Interestingly, when she came in for the fitting to mark that line, the actor wore a tiny lace thong, which I then had to be eye-to-eye with  (it, or its absence anyway) while I fit the dress. Ah, youthful confidence, how you hath flown from my withered loins….The final fashion touches (big exposed zippers, a flap that zips down to show a color) will go on when we return from our break, hopefully rested and less aggravated by morons than we were when we started out.

My pain level has increased a few notches, overall, and I am back waking up at night because my shoulders hurt too much to get comfortable. My left hand falls asleep at least 3 times a week. Sometimes my right does, too. I am going to try getting a 90 minute massage instead of a 60 minute one each Friday for awhile to see if it helps, but I am wound as tightly as possible. I’ve noticed that after typing awhile I start to lose the ability to direct my fingers. They lock and fumble and become weak and I start streaming gibberish across the screen instead of what I meant to say. It’s frustrating, and depressing. I’ve considered seeing if I could try Baclofen again just at night. I can’t remember why I gave that up, actually, but there was a reason. I get home from work and I am exhausted, wiped out, not energized to work on my own projects, just bone weary. I hate that, but it is what it is. It takes a lot of energy to deal with constant pain *and* do my job *and* be kind, pleasant, encouraging, a role model, not an asshole.

Thus, the goal of Spring Break: to return feeling better able to be all those good things. Graciously.

Mid-Week Breakdown


Sunday: Faced with more foolishness on the part of clueless, self-involved students than perhaps a mere two hours can hold, yet there it was. Snapped at someone. Sent someone else a meme of a double face palm rather than a written response because truly, the fail was too epic for words.

Monday: Noticed that my ankles hurt more than usual, as did my hip and back. Put on my ankle compression socks and my best boots (Born, riding boots, supremely comfortable and not dorky). Determined by the time I got to work that my ankles were horrid, hurting in the front with every step so that getting from the parking lot to the Shop was nearly unbearable. Suffered in silence all day. Child I snapped at emailed and requested a meeting in person about our “misunderstanding.” Assumed the worst on that. Barely made it out to the car to go home. Googled the ankle pain and came up with “anterior impingement”—indicating that each time my foot flexes, the bones are pinching the soft tissue at the front of the ankle. No meaningful treatment options. Panic about necessity of walking. Reminded self that there was an outside possibility that student wanted to meet with me not to complain but to apologize for her role in being snapped at. Took a resentful bath.

Tuesday: Tried shoes with small heel (Reikers, 1.25″ heel). Ankles slightly better but note I am also trying to walk without bending them as much as possible. This creates radiating pain from outside of ankle to knee, plus more pain in hips and back. Meet with student who indeed does want to apologize and figure out what happened, not whine. Very good. A Stalker locates his victim in my classroom, causes disruption. I call the police. Before they arrive the Stalker comes back and I use Command Voice to order him to leave immediately. Use of Command Voice results in an adrenaline rush that cancels out most of the pain in my ankles until late that evening, when they feel like the weight of my feet is far more than they can endure and I lose a small bit of my equilibrium because they hurt so much.

Wednesday: Dress like a very feminine assassin and carry pepper spray in case the Stalker ignores the police and returns. A student says, “You look really great, and like you might hurt someone, so I like it but I’m a little scared.” I wear flat motocross style Donald J Pliner boots. Ankles do not hurt like Monday or Tuesday, but feel achy and weird. Hips, back and shoulders carry the pain torch. Cut out and make a dress for upcoming production, teach makeup class, advise students as to appearance of Stalker and what to do if sighted. Department Chair agrees to install security camera to watch shop entrance. Worry constantly about ankles. Set down and forget about pepper spray several times.

Pretty stressed about what in the hell tomorrow might bring and if ankles will go south again, etc. It’s only Wednesday, dammit.

Hierarchy of Agonies


Of course there is one. My back hurts, I rank it a legit, understandable pain. My left knee hurts I rank it as legitimate-I-guess but also unwarranted, knee, settle down. My ankles hurt and they rank Legit, geez, one look at the MRI(s) and clearly, how could they not hurt?

But there is this one thing that happens that makes me furiously, unreasonably angry and I rank it as entirely stupid. A stupid, stupid, stupid pain, not legit. Sometimes I get a muscle spasm of some sort in my scalp, and it’s like being stabbed, STABBED, every 30 seconds or so. It’s the kind of pain that if it just turned on and never turned off, I’d be on the floor and incoherent in mere minutes, but instead I get little breaks in-between (kind of like labor, now that I think about it). Just long enough to cringe in anticipation of the stab and then feel extremely angry when it happens again. Stoppit, I tell it. “You are not a real pain. You are not legit, go away.” When I try to explain it to people they can’t understand it. No one else I know has ever had this particular pain.

I imagine that all my other pains, my Legit Pains, they would cut this pain and close ranks and whisper when it walked by, they would go all Mean Girls on this pain, because it doesn’t count, it’s stupid, it’s dumb, its mother wears combat boots. I have trouble being even a little bit nice when this pain is happening, it hurts so much. I consider trying my own form of acupuncture with my quilting pins, I jam my knuckle into it and try to crush it out of the way.

It’s funny how my mind can’t just go, “Oh, that is pain.” and instead sorts them and hugs some and kicks others in the pants and keeps on sorting like a bouncer at an exclusive club. “You, you, you…okay, I guess you, but watch it, you….WAIT A MINNIT THERE PAL YOU AIN’T IN DIS HERE CLUB, SEE, yous can take yer bizness elsewhere, hear?”

But Mr Scalp Spasm, he doesn’t really care. He just takes a breath, waits a beat, and stabs me again. Bastard.