Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Incredibly Effed-Up Week That Was

In the time of the pandemic, "it's been a busy week" is the new "may you live in interesting times," curses-flung-by-the-gods-wise.

This week NASA successfully landed a new rover, Mars Perseverance, on the surface of the Red Planet. This is a Big Fucking Deal. In a normal week, this would have the biggest news story in America, if not the world. A triumph for science, a milestone for human exploration, a symbol of our ever-expanding understanding of our place in the universe.

Also, it's adorable.

But it wasn't. Here are the stories that overshadowed it:

Texas had a winter storm. That of course doesn't come close to describing the severity and impact of what actually happened here. Texas is a huge state - there are 254 counties (by comparison, my home state of Wisconsin has 72). All 254 of those counties were under a winter storm warning as of last weekend. This includes Laredo County, whose average high temperature in February is 72 degrees, and my own Dallas-Fort Worth area, which hadn't seen measurable snow in February since 2015. 

For the record, I was one of the very fortunate few who didn't lose power, water, or internet this week. I personally know many people who struggled to stay warm and dry. For the most part, local governments and social agencies did a heroic job connecting folks with resources, as did ordinary friends and neighbors looking out for each other. Interestingly, the worst problems this week were caused by elected and appointed government toadies. Same as it ever was.

Speaking of government toadies, Senator Ted Cruz cemented his place as one of the worst people alive by packing up his family and heading for Mexico while millions of his fellow Texans went cold, wet, and hungry. Ted apparently never heard of the internet, because he rapidly cycled through numerous lies to explain why he fled to Cancun in the middle of a disaster declaration, despite his own easily discoverable previous digs at officials who similarly abandoned their responsibilities for the sake of personal comfort. Ted is an asshole of epic proportions.

Speaking of assholes, Rush Limbaugh finally died this week. I found out that you can land in Twitter jail by wishing for the rapid decomposition of a human body post-mortem:

Totally worth it. I've challenged his fans to provide specific evidence that Rush ever did anything beneficial for humanity that doesn't include the phrase "he wuz a paytriot." So far even the crickets are staying mum on the matter.

Anyway, Perseverance is safely puttering around on Mars, (most) Texans are good strong people, Ted Cruz is a sniveling sack of snot, and Rush Limbaugh is no longer consuming precious oxygen on this planet. The gamut of humanity has well and truly been run this week.

So stay safe, get vaccinated when it's your turn, do what you can for your fellow human, and remember that no one ever had "they stayed out of Twitter jail" carved on their tombstone, so go for it. May the news cycle slow to a crawl next week. We've earned it.

Saturday, February 13, 2021


Now that I'm officially an empty nester...

Now that I'm approaching 100 days of sobriety...

I've returned to sewing.

All of those things deserve their own post. And eventually all may get one. But as any dirtbag blogger will tell you, thinking "I can't write about z until I've thoroughly explained about x and y" is the surest way to not write a damn thing. So be patient, Drunkards, and for now just take everything as read until I can find those other words among the tortuous clutter that is my brain-warehouse.

It just needs a bit of tidying up, honest.

I love to sew. Well, actually...I love to look at pretty fabrics and interesting sewing patterns and imagine myself wearing all the beautiful clothing I've lovingly and skillfully crafted by hand. Imagination is swell. But at some point you do have to justify the presence of hundreds of yards of fabric piled up in your bedroom by actually making something wearable out of some of it.

True Story: When I left my marriage and moved into my own place, I took little more than my clothing, a bed, a few family heirlooms...and my fabric stash. I had PRIORITIES.

Taking on sewing projects is difficult when you have to clear off the kitchen table every night for supper. When you're also in the habit of drinking a soda can's worth of straight vodka in the evening, well... Sewing requires certain skills, like handling sharp pointy things and stitching in a straight line, that are incompatible with that.

This. But no ice. Every night.
As I said, that's another post.

Anyway, with both of those issues currently out of the way (at least for now - I'm not tempting fate by saying otherwise), I've started sewing again. I've finished one top, I'm working on another, and I plan to move on to dresses that I can wear in the Spring. I do find it immensely enjoyable and a wonderful way to pass the time that, ideally, results in a practical, wearable product.

Do you know what I find to be the two hardest parts of sewing?

The first is silencing the internal monologue that ensues when I cut into a pristine piece of fabric: You should have saved this for another time a different pattern an easier project oh no you can't take it back you've ruined it FOREVER.

Me thinking about anything, really.
The other is collars.

I am so bad at collars. There are a lot of sewing techniques that can be tricky. Set-in sleeves. Zippers. Linings. I'm pretty good at all those things. But collars. Are. Maddening. Give me a top with a simple round neckline and I'm aces. Add a little flap of fabric that needs to be neat, symmetrical and look good sitting only inches from my face where everyone can see it...freaking Waterloo. I feel you, Napoleon.

I'm making a cute blouse right now, having successfully navigated the arduous process of selecting just the right fabric and just the right pattern and talking myself out of forgetting the whole thing and looking for even more fabric on eBay that I can store away for months or years without using. Yeah. Anyway, the blouse has a sort of Mandarin-style collar. It looks very simple. It is trying to kill me.

Why, it wouldn't even harm a fly.
(Cue Bernard Herrmann score)

When I'm done writing this, I'll go back to what I was doing before I started writing this, which is tearing out the collar and starting again. I do not want to do this. I want the collar to look neat and tailored and perfect. Barring that, I want to throw the entire blouse in the trash and forget it ever existed.

But I won't. Because, as often happens with hobbies when we're not looking, this damn sewing project has become a metaphor for my life. It's not perfect. It may never be perfect. And giving up on it won't change the fact that I could have made it better - not perfect, but better - if I'd kept going and tried a little harder. 

So I'm going to rip it out and start over. Maybe if I pin it differently, it will fit better. Maybe I'll end up cutting out an entirely new collar piece that works with what I've already sewn. Maybe I'll find a way to hide the fact that I'm simply unable to make it look the way the pattern says it should look. Hey, just because I'm bad at collars doesn't mean I can't make a cute top.

I don't go looking for metaphors in my daily activities. But when they're in my face and begging for recognition, I let them have it. It nearly always makes me a better person and all that crap. I'll take self-improvement where I can find it, you know?

Bur my next sewing project will definitely not have a collar.