1. What a week. Let’s watch this teaser trailer for a new biopic. As the headline says, Rami Malek Is Very Hot and Glamorous As Freddie Mercury (and that headline is not wrong, my friends).
2. The Guardian interviewed a bunch of writers for their “10 rules for writing fiction” and I loved this one from Hillary Mantel:
“First paragraphs can often be struck out. Are you performing a haka, or just shuffling your feet?”
Writing tips aside, I’m going to have to work that question into everyday life as much as possible.
Thanks to Austin Kleon, I now know that Roger Ebert kept a sketchbook for years. There’s a post about it on Ebert’s old blog and it made me want to go buy a blank notebook (and also miss his writing style):
“…everyone can draw until we are told or convince ourselves that we cannot. We start out drawing everything we see until that day comes when it is pointed out that our drawing of a dog, for example, looks nothing like a dog. Then we begin to believe we cannot draw.
[…] Begin with a proper sketch book. Draw in ink. Finish each drawing you begin, and keep every drawing you finish. No erasing, no ripping out a page, no covering a page with angry scribbles. What you draw is an invaluable and unique representation of how you saw at that moment in that place according to your abilities. That’s all we want. We already know what a dog really looks like.”
(Image up top is one of Ebert’s, again via Austin, with more to look at here.)
“I just want to sew.”
“I just want to sew things correctly.“
“I just want to not exhaust myself and everyone I love with my emotions.”
“I just want to watch MST3K.”
“I just want to be a lizard on a rock.”
“I just want to play bocce while drinking something with gin and, like, rose petals in it.”
“I just want to listen to disco.”
“I just want to join a choir that only teaches 70s-style close vocal harmonies.”
“I just want everything to go back to like it was.”
“I just want some champagne.”
I was so proud I was going to have Doc’s anniversary shirt done within two months of our anniversary, not six. I found some beautiful, light, textured Japanese plaid from Miss Matatabi. I cut the pockets twice so they’d be a perfect match. I sewed in a “Handmade” tag at the neck I got from Kylie & The Machine. I was going to review the pattern (Fairfield Button Up by Thread Theory) and compare it to the normal McCalls I normally use for him (in short: more beginner friendly but unnecessarily fiddly in spots).
With his arms at his side you can’t really tell how “painted-on” it looks, but it’s too tight for comfort and the buttons are straining across the chest.
I don’t know what happened–I took his measurements, looked at the finished garment measurements, WROTE THEM ON THE PATTERN, and I guess decided he needed zero ease when I picked a size? (I cut a Large for him in this pattern. He wears a large in the McCalls. IT MADE SENSE AT THE TIME.)
So that was a big fail. And the whole time I was sewing Doc’s shirt, I was dreaming of when I could sew up another Wiksten Oversized Kimono Jacket for myself. I had some beautiful jacquard from Stonemountain and I couldn’t wait to work on it.
Well, I dove in Saturday and did pockets and shoulder seams, with tape to stabilize the jacquard and all the edges serged for a clean finish. I got the sleeves and side seams done last night–also taped, also serged–and realized: I SEWED THE FRONTS ON BACKWARDS:
That piece circled in red? Yeah, that should have met up with the sleeve. ASDFjk:#%^@*#
Reader, there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. In both cases. Maybe I should just knit for a while?
We did, too, so we went out Sunday. It’s the one month a year here where the grass on the foothills is green so I’m glad we caught it.
It’s hard for me to head up to elevation in spring and fall, because it’s so much nicer in the valleys (plus there’s yard work to do). But that Nature Rx is real, y’all. I’m glad Doc reminded me.
1. I make to-do lists to help manage anxiety, but then when they get too long or I don’t check off as many items as I thought I would in a day, I get anxious about that. This system seems genius:
I tend to be very overwhelmed and demoralized by what I have to do, so I created a system where I have a list of things that require a lot of mental bandwith and a list of things I can do at the end of the day when my energy is depleted. There’s an easy column and a hard one. My daily goal, which is ridiculously low, is one item from each category. On most days I will do well more than [that], but I find it useful to set the bar really low in order to not get demoralized.
If it’s before lunch time and I’ve already done one from each column, then I find that motivating and get more done. But if I set a less achievable goal of 3-4 from each column, I’d halfway through the day realize that this wouldn’t happen and then it’s like “well, I broke my diet, so I might as well have two beers and chocolate cake” type of situation.
2. I’ve been on a 70s kick (more on that later) and these photos of NYC parks in the summer of 1978 are fantastic, even if the article gets a little excited in places. Scenes Unseen: The Summer of ’78
It’s my last weightlifting class tonight before I find a gym or a rec center to keep lifting on my own. Someone asked me the other day why I even got into it, and I garbled out an answer, “There’s a woman on Instagram and she writes a column?”
That doesn’t even do justice to the glory that is Swole Woman, though. I saw her Hairpin columns come through on The Toast back when The Toast was online (and the joy of my life) and I started reading them.
I had fallen off the consistent yoga wagon a few years ago. I tried Fitness Blender videos for a hot second, based on Sallie Oh’s recommendation. Then when she shifted to lifting, I thought, “Oh no that’s not for me.”
It’s a good thing Swole Woman set me straight. She makes lifting sound like the most obvious thing in the world…
“Aside from the general benefits of working out, I don’t think anyone’s ever been like, “ugh, I’m TOO strong, it’s TOO easy to bend down and pick this 40lb bag of cat litter up, TOO easy to carry all the groceries from the car in one trip, TOO easy to stand up from sitting on the floor. If only I struggled more!”
…while also giving solid advice on finding a trainer, dealing with a new gym, and staying motivated. She knows her shit, too: Every column has links to videos, training programs, forums to learn more about form and routines, and her Instagram shows her doing what she’s talking about. She even posts recipes!
And she’s so fierce. This is empowerment the way of Fury Road, not GOOP. (The opening of this column is one of my favorite things on the internet.)
She’s moved on to writing a monthly column for Self and is in the middle of a book proposal, which I am going to line up to buy.
So thanks, Swole Woman. My journey to swole started with you.
There’s a yearly “sewing challenge” (yes, that is a thing) on Instagram called “Me-Made May” that I’m participating in this year. The originator of the idea talks about it more here, but basically you challenge yourself to wear something you made every day. Some people go all-out and wear all “me-mades” every day; I set a goal to incorporate one handmade thing into every work outfit.
I’ve slowly been turning my Instagram into an all-sewing feed over the last couple years so I’ve seen this challenge before and thought, “I wish I could do that!” the first year and, “Maybe I could try that?” the second year. After being so productive last year (and finally learning to make pants) I decided this was the year to do it.
There’s currently about 14,000 photos with this year’s tag on Instagram; just that sheer number of handmade garments and people sharing them so proudly makes me happy. My own feed is here–my selfie game needs work and I feel a little ridiculous, but this year I’m going to be a joiner.