Category Archives: unemployment

Needle in a scrapstack

I’ve been having a run of good bad luck lately.  Not luck that is at first bad, but then allows for something awesome to come in,* but good in terms of a good dose of it.  Don’t get me wrong, it could be much, much worse, but it is annoying as all get out.

I’ve barely spent any money lately, but my last two online orders involved a bottle of shampoo ending up all over a book, and an item of clothing needed in a timely manner arriving with a giant slash – and I did not cause it myself by opening the box with an evil box cutter or anything so keen.

I’ve been trying to set up a new doctor here and ended up with a $558.00 bill for a physical that should have been free.  For the last month, I have been calmly and persistently contacting the doctor/billing office/lab/main office/insurance company to resolve it.  All say they can’t but the other guy can.  One kind soul read back to me the transcript of the call log at the doctor’s office – I sound like a f*cking obnoxious demanding crazy bitch.  In this instance though, I am not – I have been perfectly professional with them, and only cry with rage and shake a little about the potential of having to part with the money that I don’t actually owe when I’m off the phone.

But with bad, sometimes good shows up a tiny bit.

Needle in a scrapstack

I dropped one of my current favorite sewing needles into a big box of scraps.  Bad, but not too bad, but then I sometimes use my scraps to stuff things and what if someone bought something made with them and then gave it to a toddler (though I specifically say my things aren’t meant for kids) and then the toddler sucks it down his slobbery germ-hole and requires a dramatic surgery and then my precious needle ends up accessioned with the other surgically removed swallowed things at the  Mutter Museum.  Bad (although I like that museum).  But after shaking and scrounging and hoping to find it when it penetrated my own digits, I finally located it without bloodshed.  Good.

Hair thread

I stitched up a little piece with my own white hairs.  Bad?  Well, I’ll give you kinda gross, but it is what it is.  The bad part was the haircut I got a few weeks ago that was supposed to be an inch and ended up three and more in various hideous feathery layers.  And the annoying routine I go through with every hair cutter when she/he tries to convince me to color my hair.  I rarely get a haircut, you think I can keep up with roots?  And hello, money?  And hello again, chemicals?  And ciao bitch, I’m aging, that’s what happens!  But the biggest bad is that my greys are coming in at an alarming rate and falling out at the same pace.  I figure they’re my newest strands so they should be sticking around longer…  Needless to say I had more than enough to finish the piece and now I don’t know what to do with the leftovers – I don’t think I want to use hair-thread again though.  (And not to worry, I’m not saving boogers, ear wax, and toenail clippings… well, maybe a few fingernails, but they’re for art purposes too.)  Sounds scarier than it is.

Blue scraps

And the last is a bad me for not finishing the epic summer-long quilt yet.  I’m terrified to do the quilting part (and my machines are getting tensiony), so I’m considering my options of finishing the top off and calling it a coverlet.  I don’t intend to use it anyway.

And the good?

I found my rotary cutter!

* And speaking of rotary cutters and needles, if one more person/media outlet/memoir tells me that loosing their job was the best thing that ever happened to them, well I just might get slicey and pokey.

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Filed under collecting, home decor, quilts, recycling, sewing, unemployment

My eggplant…

well-hung eggplant

is ____.   or has a ____.

(Fill in the blank with your favorite sexual innuendo or phallic euphemism, or else think of a proboscis monkey instead if you’re blushing).

And according to the latest science, this eggplant would make a terrible father.

I’m a little concerned that our organic CSA is within spitting distance of a large campus of a “global BioPharma company.”  That’s a big-assed evil major pharmaceutical mega-corporation to you and me.  When you drive past it on the way to the seemingly bucolic farm, a high-pitched hum slithers into your brain and vibrates your fillings.  I can only imagine what its doing to our vegetables.  I think it’s possible I’m growing another ovary.

I do know my thoughts and actions are becoming increasingly random.

Working x-stitch

I’ve nearly completed several portfolio pieces, but I either need to come up with several more, or be able to make the case that these few are enough to stand on their own and carry the whole thing.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately in the hopes that an artist statement and clear language about what and why I’m doing it will just tumble forth from my fingers without any effort and to my surprise.  Instead, I’m increasingly realizing that my hold on grammar is quite slippery, my comma usage is most certainly often wrong, and I really need a refresher on the basics in order to feel more like an intelligent and concise human being.  I am not a millennial, I don’t text, and I had to use typewriters and rely on knowledge of spelling for much of my early education so I don’t have an excuse – not that anyone should have an excuse.

It’s bumming me out a bit at the moment.

No limb sweetgum

You know what else is?  At home in our rental in the vinyl village, a tree company came in and sawed off half of our trees.  They didn’t take the three dead pines that will smash through our windows and walls with decapitating fury during the next superstorm, but instead took away 25 feet of branches (leafy shades) from the lovely Sweetgum right outside my window.

The bastards.

And now I’ll have to use my depressing vinyl blinds.

And lately WordPress keeps telling me that advertisements might appear from time to time at the bottom of my posts.  I do not endorse anything that might be down there (unless of course I do, but I doubt they advertise wool).  And I don’t think I have any control over what is there.  For $30 a year, I can take away these ads which I’d love to do, but then another year will go by and another $30, then another $30, and so on (boldly assuming I keep this up).  So my $30 will be going to things like health insurance and oats and toilet paper (and sexy mutant vegetables) instead.

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Filed under art school, sewing, unemployment

Half-cool sweater weather

Earlier in the month, the days turned half-cool.  It was an awesome and welcome relief after the steamy summer inferno.

These are just a handful of days in the year when you can wrap a thin wool blanket over a silky chemise and comfortably drink coffee/tea on the porch (assuming you don’t have creepy neighbors).  Or don a fingering-weight wool sweater over a sundress when seated in the shade.  These kind of days are rare, yet so many knitwear designs are inexplicably styled and photographed this way.  I suppose other parts of the country and world have climates where these kind of days are more frequent – higher altitudes and northern coasts, but here in the Mid-Atlantic/East Coast and for the lower and middle parts of the states, it’s usually hellishly half-naked hot, or full bodily-coverage cold and only about three days of pleasantry on either end.*

I also think of it in terms of sock weather or not sock weather (or tights weather or bare legs weather).  And these rare comfortable days are also perfectly described in Toni Morrison’s Sula as “too cool for ice cream.”

The return of cooler evenings also stirs up a certain muscle-memory itchiness for the dozen and more years spent in school.  The summer is ending, freedom will go away, much needs to be crammed in before it’s all over – anxiety about unfinished novels, end to swimming days, late night bonfires, and playing in the creek; dread and depression of the impending virtual lock-down for most of the day, stupid classmates, stupid teachers, and stupid homework assignments**; and a slight glimmer of excitement since one more year is starting and it’s one more year closer to being done with the whole mess, a long-awaited class or teacher might finally be on the schedule, and perhaps it will be nice to see a classmate or crush again.  Here and now in my sh*tty apartment complex, some of the ne’re do well kids from the neighboring state are appearing again to attend the better schools on this side of the river, and the school buses are making their shortcuts in the parking lot that come maddeningly close to clipping my car.

Every year around this time I want to knit a thin sweater.  I own one cheap commercially (probably also unethically) made thin cardigan that I either wear for several days straight in a row or not at all during an autumn or spring.  I know a thin sweater could take me ages to knit too, or else I’ll get a bit obsessive about it and knock it out in a few weeks, but still couldn’t reasonably finish it until the next window of half cool days.

Half cool cardigan

I’ve queued the Featherweight Cardigan, paulie, and Autumnal Cardigan but none of these is quite what I’m after, though they’re all close.  I like the top-down construction of the paulie, (and I like this one as-is, just not for what I need at the moment) but with the drapey hang of the Featherweight or Autumnal, but none of these three patterns has the gauge I’d like to use.  I’ve got a few balls of Lion Brand Sock-Ease yarn in the stash that I got on the cheap and was saving for tights or a sweater.  I’d prefer to re-create the gold/saffron of my current sweater, but this “toffee” yarn will also work with what I usually wear with it.  Part of the reason I haven’t started this yet is the math needed to re-configure or create a new pattern from scratch – I am sorely lacking in math education and natural ability, so I rarely knit garments to fit because of this – especially since I need to modify most patterns to fit my weird body anyway (except something boxy I suppose).  So I prefer items I can try on as I go rather than having to work out everything on paper beforehand.

But I also haven’t started yet because at the moment I am soooo busy with portfolio pieces and will be for a few months more, although I’m absolutely dying for a side project, a distraction, mindless knitting…

And most importantly, it is hot again and thoughts of a thin sweater are mothballed.

My legs and feet are bare once again.

*I omitted air-conditioning.  I often need sweaters in air-conditioning, and interior environments often mimic half-cool weather.  Since I half-work from home now, I can control my own thermostat, and thus no longer need the air-conditioning sweater.  And in my previous gainfully employed life, I usually left the air-conditioning sweater in the office and rarely wore it outside, so it was more of a tool rather than a wardrobe component.

**I like school, school is good, but my primary school was bad, so stupid was a reality on all fronts.

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Third time isn’t the charm; seeing stars and I don’t want the walls to talk

We just got f*cked on house #3.

My wall words

It was a late Victorian, it had enough space, it had more than one toilet, it had old doors and knobs, it had gas instead of heating oil, it was in good shape but still needed some sprucing up, it was light and bright and airy. The sellers accepted our offer, and everything was going swimmingly.  I started researching the house history, I had a warm paint palette in mind, and visions of hex tile designs dancing in my head.  We even picked out new vanity license plates* since we’d also be moving to a new state.

The night before the inspection, the seller told us they got another offer for $5,000 more.  Just $5,000…  We are in an area with a disgustingly inflated cost of living and obnoxious salaries – $5,000 is probably less than the price of one of the seller’s wife’s purses.  The seller was already going to profit hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What happened to civility and honoring your word?

A bigger profit of $10,000 or more?  Yes, I understand that and would possibly do the same.  The asshole who offered slightly more money?  Well, shame on you.  In the past, we have chosen not to bid on houses that already have offers on them – but perhaps we must become a bit more unethical ourselves.

So now, we have no house, again.

Everyone says it is for a reason.  It is a sign.  But there are no signs pointing in the right direction nor do I have any reasoning left.

I can’t find a job and we can’t find a house.

Now I have to clean the scummy sh*t off the shower that I thought I’d be leaving behind.  I went to the big-box hardware store.  I nearly broke down in sobs.  I used to cry a little when I had to go there again and again and again all in the same day just to buy the right screw when we were remodeling our old house.  This place isn’t for the unmoored shitbox apartment dweller.  I wanted to buy the non-native invasive pesticide laden flowers to liven up my window boxes.  I wanted to browse for new vintage-inspired sink handles.  I wanted to buy cement for N to fix the goddamn back step again.  Instead all I needed was some caulk for our frighteningly moldy tub since the management does a terrible job with such things here.

Last night we found a slug slimeing its way up the living room wall.

I know this post breaks my rules of telling tales of personal woe and rants as outlined in my manifesto/mission statement.  To bring it back somewhat on topic, at least on the topic of home decor which does include fiber arts (but not this time) allow me to bitch about the aesthetics of many of the residents in our area. (And yes, I am channeling my inner curmudgeony old man with canned corn stuck in his teeth right now).

So many houses we’ve looked at have these goddamn stars all over them:

  stars4  stars3  stars5 stars6 stars7

Are they supposed to be quaint and country?  (Didn’t country thankfully die in the 1980s?).

Are they supposed to attract celestial dwellers?

Are they patriotic?

I guess I am not patriotic, from outer space, or own a denim shirt with embroidered hearts because these little bitches set my teeth to grind.

Another thing?  I don’t want my walls to tell me to live, love, laugh or describe the room’s obvious function even if it is in a European romance language – I don’t want the walls to say anything.

wallwords2  wallwords3   wallwords6**

I can almost accept putting your child’s name on the wall of her bedroom – I’m all for literacy.  But one house we viewed had “Laundry” in cheery script over the washing machine – really?  And the ubiquitous “Live, love, laugh” in the bedroom – it was the home of a divorcing couple.  I guess they didn’t love or laugh – the living one is hard not to do as matter of routine.  Does anyone’s house say f*ck, cry, die?  I might buy that in vinyl script…

*Our attempted new state is known for its asshole drivers and we thought we’d look a little more like friendly drivers having plates with old buildings or woodpeckers or trees or smiling puppies on them.

**All pics yanked from real estate sites.  It’s likely I’m violating copyright.  Realtors aren’t my favorite people at the moment.  My apologies if I made fun of your house, but really, if you want to sell it, take that sh*t down.

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Filed under home, home decor, unemployment

Let’s [not] do the time warp again…

Timewarp

It’s happening again… things have only ramped up by a quarter or a half turn and suddenly I can’t account for great blocks of time.  Many things are in the works, nothing is ready to be finished yet, and my wrists now ache constantly.  Part of the time is sucked away into to the house-seeking black hole – houses that have been on the market for months, years are suddenly going under contract the minute we decide to move forward (and after we’ve spent the mental energy and time it takes to look at the place, review the flaws, and decide to pull the trigger).  Part of it is my part-time work is cycling up to the busy time, and the other parts when I’m not knitting, sewing, spinning?  I have no f*cking clue.  It’s so hot, it’s so humid; my spinning is sticky and not so smooth, the power keeps going out for short periods in the afternoon, and I can’t keep to my schedule although I’m working nearly constantly.

Some of my work doesn’t involve having to pay attention to words so I can listen to music while I do it.  When I worked at my old full-time job I’d have days on end of correcting numbers, making database tweaks, and looking at thousands of images so I could listen to episodes of Radiolab and This American Life, those teach yourself a new language programs (though they never stuck), and even audio books while I worked… it was, and I mean this with no irony and with a shrill teenage-boy tone, awesome.

tapes

So lately I’ve been making an attempt to weed and dispose of my old cassette tapes when I’ve got a chance to listen to things.  Unlike my peers at the time, I don’t have too many – I preferred vinyl albums (but made tapes from them to preserve the albums!) and then later bought CDs (for a while I even saved those ridiculous longboxes in which they came).  I don’t think I ever bought a non-blank tape except a few from small local bands; most were mixes and dubs, and a few commercial ones were acquired second-hand (ahem, or shall I say out of the trash).  The fact that I still (only) have a stereo that plays cassettes might say something – actually it isn’t even a stereo per se, just one of those old bookshelf boomboxes (c.1988) with a full-deck CD player (c. 1992).  But it works and sounds surprisingly good.  I also have a tape deck in my car (and yes, my car is that old) but it works, but it doesn’t sound that great, the air-conditioning is broken, pieces keep falling off, but it gets me around.

tape-det

I came across this tape recently and I have no idea of its origins.  It wasn’t mine – it’s not my handwriting nor my preferred type of cassette.  And it also couldn’t have been mine or a friend’s because we all listened to alternative music so it’s odd to have labeled something “alternative music” as if it is an exception to the collection.  It wasn’t from an old suitor as there are no love songs or particular attention to themes.  And the songs are merely jotted down on the insert and not decorated in fancy fonts or different colors.  A brief aside about tape decorating:  I arrived at speech class one day and didn’t know or remember it was my day to give a demonstration speech.  I had a backpack full of tapes so I demonstrated how to decorate them – I actually got an A – I wish my one ultra successful winging it episode wasn’t wasted on high school.  Anyway, the last time I acquired some tapes was from the detritus of someone who left my old apartment building maybe 8 or 10 years ago, so that is the possible provenance, yet most of those tapes were commercial and I keep them in my car now…  so it remains a mystery.  And an even bigger mystery because many of the songs on it are the ones I listened to, but the biggest mystery is that it has several tunes from the Rocky Horror Picture Show on it.  I went a few times back in the day but I was in no way a regular…  Was this given to me by someone who wanted me to go more often?  I have no idea.  But I’m blaming the time warp for everything for which I cannot remember.

I’ve been dismantling the tapes since the spools take up a lot less room than the whole boxed cassette.  But I haven’t decided if I’m going to knit, weave, or do anything with the stuff.  I hear it’s toxic due to the metals in magnetic tape and I’ve tried knitting with it already and hated it, but sometimes my brain likes to dispose of things slowly and in stages, so I’ll let it this time.  Let me know if you are a fan of cassette tape for purposes of making sh*t, and maybe I’ll hook you up…

Oh, and I saw this article recently about the Knit the Bridge project in Pittsburgh – looks like a very cool thing and they still need money, so spare some if you’ve got it!

[And one last anecdote about tapes – around 15 years ago my flatmate left a box of old dub and mix tapes on the curb for the trash (or a passer-by).  Later that week, I found some of the tapes at a Goodwill several miles out of town!  Yay for the considerate trash-picker!]

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Filed under knitting, recycling, unemployment

Back to the woods…

We were in the Adirondacks last weekend for a couple of days of soggy hiking and down time away from our frustrating and increasingly desperate home (and my job) search.

ADK-Phelps

I know that I said earlier that I needed another bout of cabin time to finish designing that shawl but I have to focus on other projects at the moment now.  I took all of the letters I need to cut out and baste for my newest quilt (I think there are 26 total) but I only managed to finish a whopping four.  Pretty lousy progress.  And I’m not entirely sure I’m doing them right or how to handle some of the narrow slices that I really can’t fold down.

ADK-letters

So I easily got distracted since basting is tiresome to me and doesn’t seem to amount to much since I still have to sew the damn things on.  In my current overwhelmed and distracted state I forgot to pack socks for the weekend. It was a good excuse to buy a new woolen pair, though I could only justify the one and had to wash them after every hike and hoped they’d dry enough for the next time.  Our cabin was infested with carpenter ants and chasing after one to photograph it was a perfect basting procrastination activity.  Do you realize how hard it is to get a clear shot of a very busy (and harassed) little ant?

ADK-ant

Bugs were definitely showing off their strengths over the weekend.   Inexplicably, black flies were suddenly crazy about my eyebrows  and one little f*cker bit me so successfully that blood was shed on my favorite wool t-shirt.

ADK-bite

But the weekend also held one of those magical and rare summer afternoons when all that mattered was swimming in a mountain pond and feeling the sun.

ADK-pond

(Thanks to N’s family for their hospitality and the afternoon at their awesome lakeside cottage on Sunday!)

And since we were away, I had a late start in the Tour de Fleece, and promptly suffered a wipe out when I sliced open my thumb on a yogurt container of all things.

TdF-Wipeout

I need my thumb to spin dammit!  I should probably lower my yardage expectations now but I’m willing myself to heal quickly.

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Filed under hiking, knitting, quilts, sewing, spinning, travel, unemployment

Unwelcome anniversaries and considering the future…

It’s been about a year since we sold our house, leaving my old studio and city behind, and we still haven’t found a new place to live.

And it’s been over a year since being becoming vastly underemployed, partially unemployed, and a beaten-down depressed chronic job seeker with no prospect in site and more rejections (or just silence) than a sane person can handle.

unemployment

For the first six months I was generally stunned, then I started this blog to force myself to organize my projects and to start writing again – an act that grad school pretty much killed well over a dozen years ago.  My graduate degree is a practical/professional one and though it has led to wonderfully interesting jobs dealing with other people’s art and historic things, I’ve long been thinking of going for a MFA.  I have a BFA in studio arts, and I’m a little hesitant to tell you that it’s in photography, specifically darkroom photography.  And I’m reluctant to say so because I still can’t get the hang of or love for this digital thing and I’m struggling with an aging cheap-ass point and shoot that goes to absolute shite in less than bright light, and chooses its own color schemes for life… I think that is the whole white balance thing… so don’t judge me based on my blog pics (and I’m talking to you DSLR fairy).  But back to the school question – last fall I visited some grad school open houses and felt a bit stunned again.  I thought I wanted to keep pursuing photography (and that’s where my portfolio is strongest) but the “studios” were windowless offices with computers.  Sure, they had a few darkrooms but they didn’t seem to be used, and the professors’ work didn’t appear to be wet… I felt very old and sad.  On a whim, I checked out the fiber arts studios and whoopie!  I felt so much better but I don’t have much of a portfolio of fiber “art.”  And herein lies the rub and the shreds and threads of my thoughts:

I like photography partly because of the extra semi-nonthinking processes involved – you could always print when you hit a slump just like with fiber you can always spin/cut up something/trim/baste/back/dye/card, etc.

My original beloved medium of wet/darkroom photography has nearly gone the way of the Dodo, and yet I’m still attracted to aging/ancient practices that have no footing in “technology.”  (Maybe I need to start a group for Paleo artists!)

A MFA won’t necessarily aid in securing employment but would compliment my other degree and open up teaching opportunities (yeah, like those aren’t scarce too… yeah, yeah).

And oh, by the way the only way I could afford it is if I got some sort of fellowship/scholarship/TA position, so I should just stop thinking about this now.

And art schools specifically don’t want unemployed people in them who are choosing this time to go back since they can’t get hired.

But the only themes I keep circling around for developing a portfolio deal with unemployment, so I need to either portray myself as making a statement about others, or embrace it and own it and make it big and mine.

But fiber art is still not considered an art (but a craft) by some (which is also a bit of a problem with photography as well).

Fiber art is still largely considered a feminine practice and that carries various implications, many financial.

Art school has a huge population of those stinking to high hell of bullsh*t.

I would have to be earnest and appear to struggle with some existential/feminist/socialist/inter-planetary/scientific/somethingistic ennui that is reflected in my work lest I be considered just a bored housewife dabbling with a hobby.

And if I don’t get the legitimacy of a terminal degree behind me and just stick with my own thing, won’t I always be stuck in the darkening hole of selling more affordable, practical, crafty things at shows and online?

Craft is now all over the place and exciting and annoying and everything in between, but turning more and more annoying, really annoying – commercial and saccharine and too much group think and fan clubby.

So many “crafters” are making amazing art and some “artists” are making crappy craft, where is the line?

And fiber crafters have a large conservative population who can get their panties in a bunch over a quilt that says “fuck.”  Really?  Good god, there are some many horrid things in this world that your politicians and corporations are doing and you deem a quilt offensive?

And Etsy etc. has really f*cked up the independent crafter/artist.

Technology has been a mixed f*ckery as well – I hate social media yet it is required these days and can really get you out there, yet an “artist” can’t look too approachable lest she seem more of a “crafter?”

And don’t get me started about the f*ckery of images being stolen from artists on the web – I’ve been following this blog about an artist who got massively f*cked by online image theft, or of clothing companies blatantly stealing indie designer’s work.

So these days artists have even more opportunity to get f*cked (unless they can already afford to be one through independent means and then are you an artist or just a rich kid with a paintbrush?).

And then art museums are full of fat-cat f*ckers and funded and run by people I generally despise.

And ultimately I just got majorly f*cked by the museum world so why would I want to skate so close to it again?

Yeah, everything is just a little bit f*cked up right now.

fiddlyfuck*

(But it could be worse, much, much worse so I can’t complain toooo much….)

*Title courtesy of N’s late salty old grandfather who used the term in noun form when the grandchildren weren’t doing anything productive as in, “Quit playing fiddlyf*ck.” 

And I keep using the * in “bad” words in an effort to deflect censorship/filters, etc. – does that even work and/or is it even necessary…?

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